Casey Kasem's Daughter Forced to Make Gut Wrenching Choice After Court Ruling

Casey KasemIf you've been following the Casey Kasem story at all over the last few months, you already know the whole situation is absolutely wrenching. The radio icon has been at the center of a bitter family fued between his children and their stepmother, his current wife Jean Kasem.

Last month, Superior Court Judge Daniel S. Murphy ordered Jean to return the terminally ill 82-year-old to a medical care facility after she kidnapped him from Los Angeles and took him to a friend's house in Washington state, and named Kerri Kasem as her father's temporary conservator. On Wednesday, the judge made another ruling that may mean that Kasem (who is now in hospice care) only has days left. Murphy "upheld Casey Kasem's health directive to stop the radio legend's nutrition and hydration."

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Kasem's health has deteriorated to the point where he's only being kept alive by a feeding tube. He suffers from Lewy body dementia, or LBD, which is often used as an umbrella diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease dementia.

According to documents filed by Kerri Kasem's attorney, Troy L. Martin, Kasem's doctors agreed that "continuation of artificial nutrition and hydration is not in the patient's best interests because it will at best prolong the dying process for him and will certainly add suffering to an already terribly uncomfortable dying process."

Of course Jean Kasen, Casey's wife since 1980, was not happy about the decision to essentially pull the plug on her husband by allowing Kerri the right to remove her dad's feeding tube if she thinks it's the right thing to do. Jean's lawyer Steven Haney said, "We're really deeply disturbed by the court's ruling today ... it's just wrong. Jean Kasem is broken-hearted."

The former radio host is apparently in a vegetative state already, and suffering from bed sores. According to a 2011 advance healthcare directive from Casey, he had explicit wishes that his life not be artificially prolonged. The family released a statement Wednesday, quoting the directive from their father:

"If the extension of my life would result in a mere biological existence, devoid of cognitive function, with no reasonable hope for normal functioning, then I do not desire any form of life sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hydration."

They also said that they have transition Casey's treatment to "comfort-oriented care," and that it was one of the hardest decisions they've ever had to make. They've invited Jean and Liberty (Casey and Jean's daughter) to come join them, but thus far they have declined. Jean's lawyer reported, "She doesn't want to go up there and be a part of what they're doing."

This is a seriously tough situation for anyone to be in. On the one hand, no one really wants to play God and decide when someone's life should end by withholding food and water. On the other, if he's not able to live without the help of machines, is that playing God by artificially prolonging his life?

Would it be different if he were, say, 42 instead of 82? How does one determine when there's no hope for any sort of recovery? Does he have moments of consciousness? Will he? Is it worth keeping him alive for the chance at another moment with him?

Is this considered killing him, or letting nature take its course?

I don't think most of us can know what it's like to wrestle with those questions and decide what to do for end-of-life care for a loved one in a condition such as Casey Kasem's, and it's even worse when family can't agree on the best course of action.

Do you think removing someone's feeding tube is akin to assisted suicide, or just letting nature take its course?

 

Image via Frederick M. Brown/Getty

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