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In re Storar

New York Court of Appeals
420 N.E.2d 64 (1981)


Facts

John Storar, 52, was profoundly retarded with the intellect of an 18-month-old child. He had lived in the Newark Development Center, a state facility, for the majority of his life. Physicians there had noticed blood in Storar’s urine and had asked his mother for permission to conduct testing. She consented. The tests revealed that Storar had cancer of the bladder. The recommended treatment was radiation therapy at a nearby hospital. Mrs. Storar was her son’s court appointed guardian and she consented to the radiation therapy, which was given for six weeks. Although the cancer was in remission for a short period, physicians thereafter again observed blood in Storar’s urine. After an examination they concluded his cancer to be terminal. Physicians then asked Mrs. Storar to consent to blood transfusions to be performed on her son. She initially consented, but later asked that they be discontinued, knowing that stopping the transfusions would likely lead to Storar’s quick death. The director of the facility (plaintiff) brought an action under the state’s Mental Hygiene Law asking that the transfusions continue. Mrs. Storar (defendant) cross-petitioned for an order to halt all procedures and named the District Attorney as a party. The court appointed a guardian ad litem for Storar and signed a temporary order allowing the transfusions to continue pending the outcome of a hearing on the matter. At the hearing, all of the experts agreed that Storar was continuously losing blood and had a very short time to live. They additionally agreed that he was unable to comprehend his situation and make an informed and rational choice regarding his care. However, it was very clear that Storar did not like the transfusion procedures, regardless of the fact that they did not involve excessive pain. The trial court and the appellate court both denied the facility’s petition to continue treatment. The facility appealed to the state’s highest court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wachtler, J.)

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