Dick's wife found him on the floor and called 911. After an hour of resuscitation efforts she asked the rescue team to stop. Dick had been in the hospital a few months ago with heart and breathing problems.
I was saddened, but not surprised, and Dick's wife made what I see as an informed and ethical decision to let Dick go—to accept that he had died.
On Sunday last The New York Times had an article by Ms Katy Butler, a woman whose Father had had a stroke and then needed an operation for an unrelated problem. The surgeon, after some pre-operation examination, required a pacemaker be installed before he would operate.
The kernel of the article is that while her Father was going down hill physically and mentally, that pacemaker was preventing nature from taking its course. The Father suffered and his wife, the caretaker, also suffered. The author wanted it to be easier to turn off her Father's pace maker. This is a borderline issue. It is artificial sustainment of life, but once hooked up, who has the right to turn it off?
My own Mother, who suffered from cancer for over a decade, had a "do not resuscitate" order. The last time I saw her was on a long weekend in 1983. I left her on Sunday, flying back to Virginia, from California. That night her hip broke. The next day it was reset and the next day she passed away in the hospital. I remember her telling me that when she passed away that her ashes would have been spread over the desert before I could get back to Palm Desert. She had a plan and it was executed just as she had explained it to me. Her network of friends made it happen.
My Mother did not go for euthanasia, but rather went with a conscious decision to avoid heroic measures to maintain her life—a "do not resuscitate" order.
In various locations people, through their government or by direct vote, have elected to allow euthanasia. One such place is the Netherlands. Last week The Daily Telegraph has an article on Euthanasia in the Netherlands. In 2009 there were 2636 cases of Euthanasia reported in the Netherlands. This is a definite increase from 2003.
In 2003, the year after Holland became the first country in the world to legalise the practice since the fall of Nazi Germany, there were 1,815 reported cases.The gist of the overly short article is that while the resort to Euthanasia is increasing in the Dutch nation, palliative care is diminishing.
This is not a good sign:
Anti-euthanasia groups say, however, that the sharp increase is probably [be] linked to the collapse of the palliative care system in the Netherlands following the legalisation of euthanasia eight years ago.People forced by "circumstances" to opt for Euthanasia is not a good thing. One wonders to what extent a state of mind on the part of the medical profession has resulted in people finding that Euthanasia is their only option.
Phyllis Bowman, the executive officer of Right to Life, said: "I am sure that the increase in numbers of people opting for euthanasia is largely a result of inadequate pain control."
Those who say we should have a national conversation on "end of life" actions are correct. But, it needs to be a very wide ranging conversation and it needs to allow for many different points of view—both within the conversation and as legislation is drafted in states and at the national level. A variety of options need to be available.
Regards — Cliff