Long Island brothers battle over whether to keep sickly mother alive

Kristin Thorne Image
Monday, January 6, 2020
Long Island brothers battle over whether to keep sickly mother alive
Kristin Thorne reports on the controversial decision for one family on Long Island.

MINEOLA, Long Island (WABC) -- Two brothers are fighting over whether their 91-year-old mother, who is on life support at a hospital in Manhattan, should stay alive or be taken off the machines.

"It's my mother's will to live," son Edward Lester said.

Lester said his mother, Arline Lester, despite being on a ventilator and having a feeding tube, wants to live.

Arline Lester, who recently had her leg amputated, is being treated at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.

"You can have respiratory failure and improve and be back to normal," Edward Lester said. "You can have a feeding tube and improve and be back to normal."

But his brother, Kyle Lester, wants his mother removed from all life-saving machines in accordance with a living will she signed in the 1990s. In the will, Arline Lester said she did not want to be kept alive if she is in respiratory failure or has a feeding tube.

Edward Lester said his mother wrote on November 13 that she wanted to revoke her living will and wanted to live.

"I have where she wrote 17 times, I want to revoke my living will," he said. "Seventeen times on a piece of paper."

Edward Lester shared a video with Eyewitness News that shows Arline Lester in her hospital bed November 7 answering Edward Lester's questions about whether she wants to stay alive.

In the video, Edward Lester asks his mother, "You still want to stay alive, correct?"

Arline Lester nods her head.

Edward Lester then directs his mother to say, "I want to stay alive."

Arline Lester mouths the words, "I want to stay alive."

The two brothers were in Nassau County Supreme Court Monday meeting with a judge on the case.

Shortly after Edward Lester spoke with Eyewitness News, Judge Julianne Capetola issued a gag order preventing anyone involved in the case from speaking with the media.

The temporary guardian assigned to Arline Lester and her court-appointed attorney argued the press should not have access to the case since it violates Arline Lester's right to privacy, particularly her medical privacy.


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