Woman with dementia at center of health directive debate expresses will to live

‘I like to be alive;’ Woman at center of health directive debate speaks of will to live

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 79-year-old woman whose family and doctors disagree on whether she should continue getting treatment that’s keeping her alive has been transferred to a care home.

On Tuesday, Charlotte Azuma was discharged from the Queen’s Medical Center after being there for nearly six months. She suffers from kidney disease and dementia.

When Hawaii News Now visited with her, her moods ranged from sad to playful.

“One day I’m going to go back and play baseball,” she said, with a smile.

In the hospital, Azuma was caught in the middle of a dispute between her family and doctors.

Both sides had different interpretations of her dying wishes — expressed in an advanced health care directive written before dementia set in.

Her sister says the question was whether the document meant they should halt life-saving dialysis as Azuma said she wanted to live.

"If the doctor says I can be cured, then I would want to be because I like to be alive so I could play with my sisters and brothers and friends," she said.

"Now that she's here (foster care home), I am her agent, I have to continue dialysis until I can line up the proper treatment that will honor her wishes. Terminating dialysis would not give her that kind of care," said Piilani Kaopuiki, Azuma's sister and legal agent.

Longtime friend and legal agent, Dora Johnson, says the woman she knew would not want to live this way.

"She always said if I don't have my memories then what's the point," said Johnson.

"Take a look at your health care directive and ensure that is what you want," she added.

In a previous statement, Queen’s Medical Center said it cannot discuss the case because of patient privacy and the hospital is “committed to providing the highest level of care that honors the wishes of every patient.”

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.