MANHASSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The parents of a terminally ill New York City woman are waging a court battle over whether to keep her on life support.
Grace Sung Eun Lee, 28, became ill with brain cancer last year and is being kept alive by breathing and feeding tubes at North Shore University Hospital’s palliative care center.
“We are trying to keep her alive,” family friend Grace Kim said.
1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports
But Lee’s court-appointed guardian said her wishes are clear.
“Her use of her lips is very, very vivid and she says, ‘I want to die,’” attorney David Smith said.
Doctors and Smith said Lee has made her wishes clear and medication is not affecting her ability to reason.
A judge ruled Grace is competent to make the decision, but her parents immediately appealed.
Before she became ill, Lee was working as a financial manager and training to run the New York City Marathon.
Now she is paralyzed from the neck down and breathing and being fed by tubes which she wants removed. Doctors said they would like to respect Lee’s wishes and remove the tubes.
“She is desperate both because of her physical pain and the days that she’s being made to endure in the hospital to simply have it end,” Smith said.
Her parents, the Rev. Manho Lee and Jin-ah Lee, have gone to court to keep her on life support, saying that removing the tubes would be suicide and would keep Lee from going to heaven.
“When someone sets a time and date to die, that is considered as a suicide and sin,” Rev. Lee said through a translator.
“The family believes they know what’s best. They know what’s best for their daughter and they know best what their daughter thinks,” the parents’ attorney, Jeff Forchelli, told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
Family and friends claim that Lee isn’t ready to give up.
“She wants to go home,” Kim said.
Lee’s family has been asking for prayers and posting updates on their legal bid on a Facebook page called “Save Grace Sung Eun Lee.”
On Thursday, the family posted a video of Lee agreeing that she would like to sign over her medical proxy to her father and that she would like to leave the hospital and be moved to a nursing home.
“We did it!!! God has heard our prayer!!! The hope is growing in her,” the family wrote.
When a man in the video asks Lee, “When do you want to leave to the nursing home?” she replies “Now.”
But Lee’s lawyer said she has already made her decision known.
“The law is very clear, as it should be, that it’s you and I who get to decide for ourselves what we want and not our parents,” Smith told Gusoff.
A spokesman for North Shore University Hospital said with all end of life decisions, it abides by the patient’s wishes and follows the law.
Both sides are awaiting a decision from a panel of judges at the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court.
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