NEW YORK -- A judge Monday refused to order a hospital to stop life-sustaining treatment of a man believed to be suffering from AIDS, despite the victim's wish to die if there was no 'reasonable expectation of recovering.'
State Supreme Court Justice Jawn Sandifer of Manhattan decided that the dying man could recover from his current ailment and his 'living will' was unclear.
'In the Court's opinion, there is nothing more precious than life,' the judge wrote in a nine-page decision.
He refused to order Bellevue Hospital to stopping life-sustaining treatment of Thomas Wirth, 47, a Manhattan proofreader.
Wirth is in a stupor, suffering from toxoplasmosis -- a brain infection common among victims of the deadly acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
His friend, artist John Evans who was given medical power of attorney, went to court to try to stop doctors from giving the victim medication to prolong his life.
Wirth -- who was diagnosed as having AIDS related complex that doctors believe has become a full-blown case of AIDS -- wrote a living will on April 13.
He directed that 'life-sustaining procedures should be withheld or withdrawn if I have illness, disease or injury... such that there is no reasonable expectation of recovering or regaining a meaningful quality of life.'
But the judge pointed out that two doctors testified at a hearing on July 15 that Wirth can recover from the toxoplasmosis.
The physicians said he could live for as long as two years, although AIDS is fatal.
'In all probability, Mr. Wirth has AIDS and unfortunately at this time there is no hope of recovery from that disease. There is, however, a hope of recovery from the clear and present threat of toxoplasmosis,' Sandifer noted.
The judge also decided that the living will was 'ambiguous,' calling the phrase meaningful quality of life 'amorphous.'
'It is the suggestion of the Court that great pains be taken by the drafter of living wills to dispel the ambiguities which necessitated this proceeding,' he said.
Wirth's friend said he would appeal the court decision.
'It's horrible,' Evans said.
'It's disgusting. All the things he didn't want are happening to him. He didn't do things lightly. He's not going to walk out of there (the hospital) today or tomorrow. And even if he does, what's he going to go home to -- to walk up five flights of stairs to a hot apartment and be bedridden until he dies?'