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Is it right to prolong life at any cost?

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by Viking, Sep 30, 2004.

  1. Viking Gems: 19/31
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    [​IMG] I am not of course talking monetary cost here, but the cost in terms of suffering and quality of life of the patient in question.

    This case is being heard in the High Court in London over the next couple of days.

    It is a harrowing tale of a very prematurely born girl who is in a very poorly condition. She will die in infancy, though her life may be prolonged for a while at the cost of pain and suffering, with no prospect to speak of in terms of having what you might term "any quality of life".

    The medical staff are asking, based on these facts, that when she needs to be resuscitated again (they have already done so three times in the eleven months since she was born) they let her die rather than suffer further.

    Her parents are fighting against this request, and since no agreement has been reached the case will be decided in court.

    I find it hard to understand why her parents in this particular case are against letting her pass away. This is not me being callus or unsympathetic, merely acknowledging the facts of what is, and accepting that the poor little baby in this case can only having her suffering prolonged, never truly her life.

    Please also understand that this is not a case of euthenasia, it is merely a case of allowing her to die naturally when the time comes.

    How do you guys see it?
     
  2. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I do think it is the parents choice, someone must make it and in the case of an infant I cant see anyone else making it. My sister gave birth to very sick twin girls and one of them died after only a day without any hope at all while the other lived for around a week before they took her off all the life supporting machines she had. That was her parents decision as there was no hope anyway, only that she might be kept alive for a few more weeks with tubes sticking into her.
     
  3. Kam Gems: 15/31
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    When my Granfather had Alzeimer's, by the end he couldn't recognize anyone in his family. He couldn't feed himself, he couldn't even get out of bed. In the end, we decided that if his heart stopped, not to resuscitate him. It was hard, but that was the decision we made. But it was the choice of his family. Not the doctors. Sorry, but as much as they may feel about it, the doctors and nurses have no right to make this decision. It is the right of the parents to decide in a case like this how their child should be treated.
     
  4. Rallymama Gems: 31/31
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    Absolutely agreed. BUT (and you knew that was coming) in cases where the family insists on prolonging life against all medical advice, who pays the bills? IMO the family should be 100% responsible for all costs of treatment, and 100% ineligible for any assistance beyond what is normally provided by thier insurance. The government, taxpayers, or hospital, and/or insurance company shareholders should not be held fiscally responisible for their irrational decisions. Yes, this is a decidely American, capitalist perspective.

    The cases that really get me are ones like Karen Ann Quinlan or Terri Schiavo - cases where the STATE steps in and forces the institution to keep the patient on life support DESPITE the wishes of the family (OK, in the Schiavo case there's conflicting wishes within the family, but the state still intervened). Can someone please explain to me just what the STATE gains by keeping one of its citizens in a persistent vegetative state ad infinitum? This person will never vote again. :rolleyes:

    In cases like these, I think the bills should be paid out of the Governor and AG's personal bank accounts. :flaming:
     
  5. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I agree with most of what has been said. Usually, the decision comes to the family. The spouse is supposed to have the first say, provided he/she is of sound mind. If there is no spouse, the decision is left to either the parents or the child (the parents in the case of a young child, the child in the case of an aging parent). After that, it usually falls to another first degree relative (brother or sister) or if needs be to a grandparent or grandchild. Any of these can be superceded if the patient has a living will stating his/her desires, or a will that gives the power of authroity to make that decision to someone other than a direct family member.

    There is an issue similar to this in the U.S., involving a 30-something Florida woman. I don't remember her name at the moment, but she has been in a persistent vegitative state for something in excess of 10 years. She does not require life support to keep her breathing or her heart beating, but she does require a feeding tube for sustenance. The husband wants the tube removed, while the woman's parents want her kept alive. Jeb Bush (Florida's governor) had a bill passed that required the food tube to remain. That law went to the Supreme Court eaerlier this week where it was ruled unconstitutional. AFAIK, that woman is still alive, although the Court's decision seems to clear the way for the tube to be removed.

    Personally, I don't understand why that case has even gone this far. According to the husband, she had verbally told him (prior to going into PVS) that she would not want to be kept alive under such circumstances. There is an existing Florida law that states that a patient's verbal wishes must be followed as well. But in this case, that shouldn't matter as it is the husband, not the parents, that should be given sole authority to make this decision.

    Edit: Ah, Rally posted while I was typing - yes the name of the Florida woman I was referring to was Terri Schiavo.
     
  6. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    I am a firm believer in the right to die. We also have made the decision that my Aunt (who is suffering from Alzheimers) that she is not be kept alive. It was a tough decision, but it is so painful to watch what it is doing to everyone.

    Now on the other hand I also believe that doctors have a responsibility to do no harm. In the case mentioned at the top of the thread if the doctors believe that following the family's wishes is causing pain/suffering they have a responsiblilty to go to the courts.
     
  7. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    But the courts would give them no relief. Yes, doctors have a responsibility to do no harm, but continuing treatment does not fall under that classification. Additionally, an ill patient (even a terminally ill one) has every right to refuse treatment. Again, even if the doctor's oath is to do no harm, and definite harm will come to the patient by foregoing treatment, the doctor has no legal recourse.
     
  8. Faraaz Gems: 26/31
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    I believe its the right of the parents to say what's right for their child. That is the rule for minors who are under the charge of their parents, and though it sounds a very bullish view to take, I don't think it is.

    Its their baby, and they can't bring themselves to make the very difficult decision of losing their baby, or continuing to have her suffer over and over again. I feel for them, but at the same time, as long as they want their child to live, NO ONE has any right to say otherwise.
     
  9. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I'm no medical expert, so I can't judge individual cases, but it seems wrong to me to keep brain-dead people alive at the cost of letting go of those who could lead a normal life if they had access to the same equipment. Euthanasia seems wrong to me, but deciding not to have your life artificially prolonged doesn't have the same aura, if it's only a matter of buying hours or days with no concrete prospect for the future.
     
  10. Darkthrone Gems: 12/31
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    Why should this be? The options seem to be: either die right now - or die in a short time to come with the added bonus of severe suffering and pain. Parents are not that special, y'know, it's not like they own their child. The well-being (or in this case, unfortunately, rather the not-unwell-being) of the child normally lies in the hands of the parents, true. But what of parents who despite their best intentions don't act to the best of their child? In this case someone else should have the right and responsibility to step in and take over.

    Remember, the key words here are "no feelings other than continuing pain" and "Her quality of life is both terrible and permanent". Is this a life worth living?
     
  11. Bahir the Red Gems: 18/31
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    I say pull the plug. If the baby will never have a normal life, if she will be in constant pain and will be forced to use a respirator and never be able to move around like other people, why let her suffer like that for however long she will live?
     
  12. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Slippery slope. Where do we draw the line? I understand what you mean, and your intentions are good, but as soon as you start to allow one thing, the rules can be pushed. Best to keep it as it is, with the parents having the final say.
     
  13. teekc Gems: 23/31
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    You would think though, we all die at the end, why there are doctors that save lives in the first place? Is there a difference in between prolong life for few seconds and prolong life for 20 years? Life is life, what is the price tag for life?

    And the question of what life is worth living. Actually, what life is worth living? Is there a life that is not worth living? Can there be a life that is not worth living?

    And the question of normal life. What kind of life is normal? From our history text, all the great comes from abnormal life. Jesus had a father who don't walk our material world. Siamese twins were stick together for life. Edison didn't went through a normal education.... and so on.
     
  14. ejsmith Gems: 25/31
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    No. You let go, and remember as best you care to.

    That's all I have to say.
     
  15. Abomination Gems: 26/31
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    As long as the government/tax payer isn't paying to keep the girl alive and it is the parents, sure, keep her alive. However if someone other than the parents are paying then they should pull the plug. If someone wants to be irrational and waste money in a futile effort then they can waste their own money.
     
  16. RangerFox Gems: 4/31
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    I don't believe that people should be kept alive like that. It's the equivalent of torture to force someone to live in constant agony with no possibility of complete recovery. I think it's sadistic.
     
  17. Viking Gems: 19/31
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    Interesting that more of you lean towards the parents rights rather than what is necessarily in the best interest of the child.

    And I do not agree that parents have a right to decide what is in the best interest of their children in all circumstances. It is simply not the case as they cannot have a balanced view in these matters. This is one of those choices that they are not necessarily the best placed people to make.

    No details are yet available from the case though a judgement is expected later today. I will link when I can.

    PS - For your information, the treatment is fully funded by our tax money, though to be fair I do not see that this actually makes any difference to the fundamental question in the case.
     
  18. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    In this case most of us are perhaps of the opinion that the parents are wrong, even so someone must have final say and I cant see anyone more relevant than the parents.
     
  19. Abomination Gems: 26/31
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    If the child has no chance of recovery then the effort is futile and tax money should not be wasted because two people can't accept the inevitable. Not to mention that life-support costs ALOT of money.
     
  20. Viking Gems: 19/31
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    My contention is that if the effort is futile it should be stopped regardless of who is paying.
     
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