The family of a man who has been in a coma for months is in a legal battle with Toronto doctors who want to remove him from life support.

Hassan Rasouli, 59, has been in a coma since undergoing brain surgery in October after contracting bacterial meningitis. Doctors at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre say he is in a permanent vegetative state and has no chance of recovery.

But members of Rasouli's family disagree and want him kept alive on a breathing machine.  

"He is alive and life is a gift from God," Rasouli's wife, Parichehr Salasel, said Wednesday. "I feel him in my heart I feel him at the bedside — he [feels] me."

The case went before the Ontario Court of Appeal on Wednesday. Lawyers from Sunnybrook are appealing a superior court decision that decreed the issue should be resolved by the Consent and Capacity Board, a provincial tribunal that adjudicates end-of-life disputes.


Mojgan Rasouli Parichehr Salasel speak to reporters outside a Toronto courthouse Wednesday. (CBC)

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthansia Prevention Coalition said that allowing doctors to bypass the tribunal would be a mistake.  

"At least there, there is some sense that a fair hearing can be made and decisions can be made quickly for the best interests of everybody," he said.

Doctors said in the appeal that it is as certain as anything ever is in medicine that Rasouli will not regain consciousness.

But Rasouli's daughter, Mojgan, believes her father is getting better and she won't give up hope.

"I appreciate our lawyers, I appreciate all the doctors' efforts through these miserable months, but we want my father alive," she said.

Judgment on the case has been reserved.