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Judge lets Detroit's Casey Kasem be removed from life support

Sadly, it's starting to appear as though the long-running feud over the care of famed radio personality Casey Kasem could continue until his dying day. The day, says the family, is coming soon.

Most recently, a judge reinstated his end-of-life health directive and gave his daughter the right to end the hydration and artificial nutrition that, as the daughter's lawyer put it, will "at best prolong the dying process for him and will certainly add suffering to an already terribly uncomfortable dying process."

The Detroit Free Press reported on June 12 that Kasem, a Detroit native, was removed from life support. He is reportedly in a hospital in Washington state.

Kasem's wife and his children from a previous marriage have waged a very public battle over the 82-year-old's care. According to Kasem's daughter, her father signed a health directive in 2007 stating that he did not want to be kept alive if it "would result in a mere biological existence, devoid of cognitive function, with no reasonable hope for normal functioning."

Kasem reportedly signed the directive after learning he had Parkinson's Disease. It gave his eldest children rather than his wife authority to make medical decisions on his behalf if necessary. That diagnosis was later changed to Lewy body dementia, which is incurable.

As Kasem's health deteriorated in subsequent years, his wife and older children became embroiled in legal battles over medical treatment decisions. Jean Kasem, to whom Kasem has been married for 33 years, has fought to maintain control over her husband's care. According to his children, she kept them from seeing their father.

Now that the end is nearing, Kasem's older children say they want the entire family, including their stepmother and half-sister, to be with Kasem. As one of these older children said, "If he opens his eyes, I want my dad just once to see everyone standing around him…."

Health care directives and end-of-life legal documents cannot guarantee that there will not still be disagreement among family members over a loved-one's care. However, at least with these documents in place, courts have something showing the wishes of the person who signed them. This will help them make objective decisions in an emotionally-charged situation to help protect the rights of people who are no longer able to speak for themselves.

Source: CNN, "Casey Kasem's daughter has the power, but will she use it?" Alan Duke and Ed Payne, Jun. 12, 2014

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