'He doesn't want us to give up on him', family fights to keep son on life support
Christina Succi, CTV Ottawa
Published Tuesday, August 13, 2019 3:44PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 13, 2019 11:15PM EDT
The family of a seriously injured cyclist says they are fighting to keep him on life support.
Idan Azrad suffered a traumatic head injury when he was struck while riding his bike Wednesday on Renaud Road in Orléans.
The 27-year-old was rushed to the trauma centre at The Ottawa Hospital where he was taken into surgery.
“We saw him there lying on the bed with tubes and all this equipment,” said Idan’s mother Tina Azrad.
“His legs are looking so helpless.”
Tina Azrad, who flew in from Israel alongside her husband and daughter, says within 2 days, her son was declared as brain dead and he would need to be taken off life support.
“They say – there’s nothing else we can do, he’s brain dead,” said Tina Azrad.
“I said, ‘what do you mean brain dead’ he’s brain damaged.”
According to Tina Azrad, her son is still very much alive.
“He is breathing even with the aid of machines, but he’s alive,” said Tina Azrad.
“They came back to us, said he failed all his reflex tests and therefore he is brain dead, and at this stage there is no reason to keep him on life support.”
The Azrads are a devoutly religious Orthodox Jewish family, who say according to Jewish religous laws, death only occurs when the heart stops beating.
“We are people of faith, we believe in God and the power of prayer,” said
“We understand you think he’s a lost cause, but he is our son.”
In Ontario, there is no statutory definition of death. According to Ontario human rights lawyer Hugh Scher, physicians use two sets of criteria to determine death, one of which is when the person’s heart stops beating, and the other brain death, which is the irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness and the capacity to breathe.
Scher has also represented a Christian family in Brampton, who fought to keep Taquisha McKitty on life support despite being declared brain dead. In 2018, an Ontario Superior Court Judge ruled against the family and sided with doctors, saying there is no legislation that requires a doctor to consider personal or religious beliefs as factors in the determination of death. McKitty ultimately died of natural causes, but the ruling is under appeal.
“[They say] ‘In our hands we’re done’, and we’re all shocked” said Idan’s brother David Azrad.
“It’s just been almost 48 hours, how can you be done?”
David Azrad says his brother hasn't had enough time to recover.
“God wants us to pray and just to pull the plug is killing him, killing the chance to have him back to us,” said David Azrad.
“We can’t just stop fighting or unplug him because the hospital needs more beds.”
The Ottawa Hospital tells CTV it cannot comment on specific patient cases for privacy reasons, but says once a patient is declared brain dead physicians do work with families.
The Azrad family says doctors have given them a few additional days, but know Idan is living on borrowed time.
“They asked us, how many days do you want,” said David Azrad.
“I don’t know God. I don’t know his plans.”
David Azrad says the family wants enough time to at least find a long-term place where his brother can be moved to, and where the family can get more medical opinions on Idan’s condition.
“I want my son, we want our son and brother, we want a chance,” said Tina Azrad.
“He is fighting for his life and we want him to have the chance to do it.”
Scher says once a doctor declares a person as brain dead, the doctor does not need a family’s consent to stop life support, but the family can seek a court order and could be granted an injuction.
An online fundraiser has been started to help the family raise the funds needed to transfer Idan to a long-term facility.