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Ailing deejay Casey Kasem to stop receiving food, water

Casey Kasem, circia 1989.
Casey Kasem, circia 1989.

By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The daughter of ailing 82-year-old deejay Casey Kasem has decided to withhold food, hydration and his usual medication from him following a Los Angeles judge's decision on Wednesday to let her do so, her spokesman said.

Kerri Kasem and her brother and sister, the "American Top 40" host's children from his first marriage, chose to transition Kasem back to comfort-oriented, end-of-life care at a Washington state hospital where he has been in hospice care.

Kasem's care has been the subject of a legal tussle between Kerri Kasem and Casey Kasem's current wife, Jean Kasem, who initially won a court order on Monday allowing Kasem food, water and his usual medication. Kasem's wife has opposed withholding food and water from her husband. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel Murphy determined that giving Kasem food and water would be detrimental to his health, agreeing with the deejay's physicians and daughter Kerri Kasem, who is in charge of her father's healthcare.

"Transitioning our father's treatment to comfort-oriented care was one of the hardest decisions we've ever had to make," Kasem's children said in a statement.

The statement included part of Kasem's health directive, which stated that he desired no form of "life-sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hydration."

Kasem, who also voiced the character Shaggy in the "Scooby-Doo" cartoons, had been on comfort-oriented care, which manages pain and withholds food and water that could be harmful to his health, Kerri Kasem's attorney Martha Patterson said.

Patterson said food was running a risk of giving Kasem pneumonia while water was flooding his lungs.

Kasem's court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham, supports putting his client back on comfort-oriented care.

Gregory Young, an attorney for Jean Kasem, said they would pursue all legal options and that Kasem was being "starved and cut off from medicine until he dies." Young also alleges that the healthcare directive presented by Kerri Kasem is out of date.

Kasem - who suffers from Lewy body disease, a form of dementia with symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease - is also suffering from an infected bedsore, an ulcer on the skin that is often difficult to treat.

(Editing by Will Dunham and Jim Loney)

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