MANHASSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The family of a 28-year-old terminally ill New York City woman says she has had a change of heart and no longer wants to be removed from 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.
1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon Reports
Lee’s devoutly religious parents, Rev. Manho Lee and Jin-ah Lee, went 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.
However, 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.
But on Friday evening, Lee’s father said his daughter has changed her mind and expressed as much to her lawyer.
“Mr. Smith told me that Grace showed a strong confidence she wants to live and that’s what he heard,” Rev. Manho Lee said.
Grace Lee’s cousin, Paul Kim, told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon that he also spoke with the terminally ill woman after she met with her lawyer and doctors.
“I witnessed the physician, the lawyer leave the room and I went immediately afterward and I spoke to Grace. We got her comfortable. I asked her ‘What did you tell them? Did you tell them you want to live?’ And she said ‘Yes,’” Paul Kim said.
For now, the family said they believe in miracles and are praying Grace Lee gets healed.
“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 Thursday.
“We are trying to keep her alive,” family friend Grace Kim said Thursday.
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. On Friday, a panel of judges ruled the motion to stay the decision was denied.
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.
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.
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