Skip to comments.Judge rules boy's life support can be switched off despite parents' hope of miracle
Posted on 08/13/2012 3:43:08 AM PDT by markomalley
A judge has ordered that doctors can switch off a young boys life-support system even though his devout Christian parents pleaded for him to be kept alive in case of a miracle.
Mr Justice Ryder said there was no hope of the eight-year-old recovering from lung failure after a tragic decline in health and it would be wrong to keep him alive and possibly in pain on a machine.
He paid tribute to the boys parents and teenage sister, who told the High Court that they believed he was still conscious and that there was still a chance of divine intervention saving him.
But the judge said that with a heavy heart he had to agree to the hospitals request to withdraw life-sustaining treatment as doctors and nurses agreed that all further interventions would be futile.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
That’s eerily similar to my father’s passing, right down to the two hospitals.
That said, in the real world, you don’t have to be dead for death to be a certainty. You can be alive and “in there” as you put it, and well on your way to meet your maker. This boy might be “in there” but there is absolutely no way at this point that his lungs are ever going to regain function, and no way that prolonged ECMO isn’t going to kill him. It’s the proverbial being trapped under a car, with only the weight of the car keeping severed major arteries closed.
After conferring with my wife this morning, the more I think this is the abuse of a technology. ECMO is only supposed to be used for brief periods of time to give the heart and/or lungs a chance to heal. If there are no improvements in a very short period of time, it’s just a torture device that’s going to kill the patient, and soon.
At first I thought maybe this boy was brain dead, but after reading the whole article, that isn’t the case.
It’s one thing to declare brain death - entirely another thing to predict someone’s demise before they actually get there.
Terri was not brain dead - had she been, there never would have been a controversy and no one would have heard of her.
I am sorry for your loss.
Our experience with our daughter was similar.
My question relates to the word and concept of “intervention.” What has been done to date has been an ‘intervention,’ i.e., using technology to thwart what would have been the child’s natural death. That technology has apparently not worked. So how is terminating use of that failed technology considered “ordering [the child’s] death?”
As parents, yes, we would move heaven and earth to save our child’s life. Been there and done that. But when use of the best technology available is not working, and there is little to no hope of its ever working, I don’t think cessation of its use is “ordering the patient’s death.” It’s ceasing a futile effort to forestall the patient’s natural death.
And when the car, home and everything inside has been sold, savings account depleted, retirement funds drained and the last losing Powerball ticket has been purchased, then what? At some point the money will run out.
Your thoughts are sick. Your utilitarian view of human life is warped & not in-line with conservative values.
And these types of threads always bring out a certain element who believe it is every hospital's duty to provide free of charge expensive, limited in number life-supporting equipment and the trained staff to operate them to every last patient who needs it for as long as it takes for God to work miracles and anyone who disagrees is somehow "sick" and "not conservative."
It doesn't work that way.
It would be different with a private insurance company?
The poor boy has been on the Ecmo machine for a month. There has been no improvement, there is no hope of improvement and the doctors have had to sedate him more and more heavily to prevent discomfort. The mother does not dispute the conclusions of the medical team, but is holding out hope for a miracle. So how long to you wait for the miracle. How much suffering to you put the boy through while you're hoping for divine intervention?
Just because we can hook people up to machines and keep them 'alive' for years doesn't mean we should. The time comes when it's best for all to let God or nature or whatever explanation you want take its course.
If she could breathe on her own and her heart could beat on its own, then her brain was most certainly not "dead" by any medical definition. If her brain were "dead" then her bodily functions would shut down and she would die of whatever injury or malady caused her condition. Since her bodily functions did not shut down, she didn't die of whatever injury or malady caused her condition. Her cause of death was starvation and/or dehydration.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
Had Terri been brain dead, the doctors would have declared her so many years prior.
She wasn’t even on a ventilator, so they could’t even “remove her from life support” -like they do when someone truly is brain dead.
People always like to compare apples to oranges when it comes to this topic.
Brain trauma - minimal consciousness - coma does not equal brain death.
No one is advocating endless futile care at any expense. Stop trying to cloud the issue. The issue here is the government ordering the termination of medical care.
I haven't said anything different. But people should be making their own decisions about these things, not the government. The idea that the government ("we") ought to dictate the terms of death to families is appalling.
And when the family decision is to keep the poor child hooked up to the machine regardless of what it does to him? Forcing doctors to keep him sedated for weeks or months or longer, and upping the medication as they go along so he isn't suffering, all in a forlorn hope that a miracle will occur and he will be suddenly cured? When should the voice of reason enter into the picture and say, "Enough" and let the poor child pass in dignity and peace? And who should be that voice? Those who know what he's going through or those who are prolonging the suffering?
If the parents are truly Christian then they shouldn't fear death, for they should know that their son is going to a better place where he won't suffer anymore. They shouldn't promote the end, but neither should they extend it for their own feeling's sake. Their son is gone. Let him go.
I’m really not sure what point you are trying to make. That there should be some sort of authority figure dictating health care decisions?
How about the doctors treating the boy? They would know if future efforts are futile. Let them make the decision.
Yes it is, and this is where your main logical inconsistency lies. Your previous posts #11 and #28 directly question whether the "costs (financial and others) of providing medical care in difficult (likely futile) cases" like this one are warranted. There can be no judgment about whether the such costs are justified unless there is a comparison made of the value to which they are intended.
If you read the details of the article, you'll see that this is not a simple case of someone who is being fed and hydrated with a feeding tube, or is using mechanical means to support some basic life functions.
The level of care or cost is irrelevant to the ethical side of this discussion. The side, incidentally, which you appear almost sociopathically unwilling to grasp.
The child is hooked up to machine that has taken over the function of his heart and lungs, which means this child would -- in all likelihood -- have already been declared clinically dead before this kind of technology existed.
So would any diabetic without insulin. The fact is the child isn't (or wasn't) clinically dead at the time of this ruling.
This is an intensive care treatment, which means (by definition) it is invasive, costly, and requires ongoing support of one or more organs.
Although your definition is decidedly non-medical, many other types of treatment are "invasive, costly, and require ongoing support". None of this is relevant to this discussion without considering the worth of the patient, unless you are somehow advocating rather unique general opposition to all intensive care.
The very nature of intensive care is that since it can often effectively be used indefinitely to keep someone alive
No, indefinitely is a stretch. In this case there was no allegation that the patient would live indefinitely longer with the medical care.
it is only supposed to be used in cases where there is a likelihood of patient recovery.
There we go. You couldn't help but stumble into the ethical side of the discussion despite your best efforts not to. Your phrase "supposed to be used" goes beyond anything revealed in the court decisions. Your phrase "likelihood of recovery" quantifies the issue, but only when one considers the values of the patient. For example, even if the likelihood of recovery is 100%, what good is this if the patient himself has no value?
And yes -- this means someone must make an objective determination about the likelihood of a patient's recovery.
Just one? And what about their biases? Also, if this merely becomes a question about the likelihood of recovery, are you saying that all recoveries are equal? Surely the value of the recovery of an 11 year old is greater than the value of a recovery of a 98 year old. Someone like you should at least acknowledge that.
Again -- this is not about the "value of a life."
Of course it is, and it is a rather sad revelation about the type of person you are that you keep denying that. Without attributing value to the patient, all medical care is wasted. It would simply be medical spending for the sake of medical spending. There simply would be no denominator in your cost/benefit analysis. Can't you see that?
It's about whether there is a legal or moral obligation to provide this kind of medical treatment
The use, by someone taking your position, of the words "legal and moral" in the same sentence is sadly ironic. Left up to people like you, there would be no legal obligation to provide medical care whatsoever.
which represents an expensive and limited "good" in cases like this ... indefinitely.
How can there be a "good" when you deny there is value? You contradict yourself.
While nobody likes to look at anything like this in financial terms, the reality is that financial constraints will often dictate courses of treatment in these cases.
And why is that? You are attempting to justify your means with your ends.
The doctors and medical staff aren't working for free, the hospital building wasn't constructed for free, the electric bills must be paid, and the life-saving equipment and drugs all cost money.
All medical care costs money. The question here is whether it should be denied for a potentially conscious 11 year old strictly on the word of the people who are paying for it. Again, your ramblings about cost without allowing for any consideration of the value of the patient comes across as quite sociopathic.
Any time you have a third party paying the medical bills, you've effectively surrendered a lot of authority to determine your preferred courses of treatment.
Not necessarily, it depends upon whom the authority was surrendered to. Your conclusion would only be the case where the medical authority is also the judicial authority.
And this holds true regardless of whether the third party is a government agency or a private insurance company.
Not so. I fully expect the insurance carrier to whom I pay my premiums to provide the life sustaining care my family may need. They have done so in the past and they will do so in the future as they are legally obligated to do. The difficulties encountered in this case in a country which nationalized it's healthcare are due more to the fact that the healthcare provider is also the legal authority which makes those decisions. We all have a vested in interest in keeping people like you from having that authority.