A fully conscious 78-year-old Massachusetts man, who got the "right to die" he never asked for last week and whose life-sustaining devices have now been discontinued, reportedly has said he wants to live.

The man, Earle Spring, has missed three dialysis treatments since a judge went along with his family's determination that he "would want to die" if he were competent to say so.

Last Friday, however, according to nurses at the Holyoke Geriatric Center, Spring told them he did not want to die.

The nurses apparently waited until Monday to report their conversations with Spring to local newspapers. A lawyer yesterday asked a judge to reconnect the dialysis machine pending further inquiry.

But the judge, instead of acting immediately, scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. this morning.

Meanwhile, Spring today could miss a fourth of the dialysis treatments he needs to keep his blood from being fatally poisoned by his malfunctioning kidneys.

Spring never did tell anyone he wanted to die. His family sought and received a court judgment that he was mentally incompetent and incapable of expressing a reliable opinionon the subject.

But nurses at the home wrote a letter to the Holyoke Transcript saying they were "appalled over the recent court decision and we feel helpless and frustrated having to abide by it."

One nurse described a conversation with Spring Friday in which he was asked how he was: "Fine," he reportedly responded.

"Are you in pain," she asked. "No." he responded.

"Do you want to die?"

"No," he said.

The nurses would not accept calls yesterday to explain why they waited until Monday to report the conversation. The judge was not available for comment on why he delayed a decision until today.

Mark Berson, a court-appointed guardian for Spring, sought the reconnection of the dialysis machine yesterday. At least, he said, Spring should be treated until the court could reexamine the question of his "right to die."