Parichehr Salasel wept for joy as she walked into her lawyer’s downtown office and heard that the Supreme Court had ruled in her favour, upholding an order that has kept her husband, Hassan Rasouli, on life-support for the past three years.
The family refused to allow doctors to remove him from life support, sparking a three-year-long court battle
that has taken them to the highest levels of justice in Toronto and Ottawa. Salasel, who trained as a physician in Iran, and her daughter, Mojgan Rasouli, have visited Hassan daily at Sunnybrook Hospital and say his condition is improving.
“Little by little, his consciousness is getting more and more. His looking, to everybody, to movies, to pictures, changed. He understands everything but cannot respond,” said Salasel, speaking to the media Friday at Rasouli’s lawyer’s office. Salasel and Rasouli have two children, Mojgan and son Mehran.
Hassan Rasouli's wife, Parichehr Salasel, and daughter Mojgan listen to their lawyer, Gary Hodder, explain their journey. Rasouli has been in a coma at Sunnybrook hospital for 3 years
after contracting meningitis following surgery. Friday's ruling prevents doctors from being allowed to disconnect him from life support against the wishes of his family.
When the case first went to trial he was comatose, said Salasel, but even then his family had faith that his condition would improve. “We were surprised and shocked, what doctors were seeking to get,” Mojgan said in an interview with the Star. “For us, it was obvious … that it was too early, premature diagnosis for him. He needed time. And he got the time. Everything changed. Even the doctors changed their diagnosis.”
Salasel said the passage of time brought new responses from Hassan.
“When I show him movies that he likes … he smiled,” she says. “Many signs I discovered in him that he is very aware. I asked him, ‘Open your mouth. Stick out your tongue.’ And he did, a lot of time.”
His recovery was enough that, on Jan. 23, 2012, his condition was upgraded to “minimally conscious.”
“Today he’ there, his life is within his body, in every single (one) of his veins,” said Mojgan. “As I said three years ago, he’s not able to communicate as usual, but he will communicate with us through his eyes, through grabbing our hands. I always feel his warmness of his hands.”
Mojgan and Salasel said they planned to visit Hassan Friday afternoon and share the news with him. Then they will look to the medical staff for the way forward.
“Doctors, because they were aware that changes were happening to my dad, they will show us next steps,” said Mojgan. “Maybe he needs to go to rehab for a few months, then we could be able to have him at home.
Those things will be discussed later with doctors.”