Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meanwhile, Up Canada Way

...Studying what happens when you stop feeding seriously-challenged premature babies. Not reading for the faint of heart.

Look, I may not've managed a real high score on the empathy test over at Say Uncle but this is simply ghastly. --I don't have time to run it all the way back to the source this morning and Flynn definitely has an axe to grind; nevetheless, first sight makes my blood chill and boil simultaneously.


Apocalypso said...

Shiverin Shiva in a shithouse...that read like a Nazi Atrocity documentary on History International or something.

I have no words to describe how I feel right now.

Paul said...

This happened in Canada? Makes me think people in health care have the problem.

Joanna said...

Nutrition and hydration are not, repeat NOT, life support, any more than a warm blanket is life support. Why they don't make the next logical leap and let the babies die from exposure is beyond me.

And you know that someone did this to a dog, he'd be run out of town on a rail.

Now please excuse me; I have to go work on my living will.

The Freeholder said...

This happens because we will not do for our hopelessly ill what we will do for our dogs and cats--make a tough decision. So we allow them to starve to death, or die of dehydration, or both.

Riddle me this: Once you have decided/realized that someone or something is going to die no matter what, which is worse--prolonging it because you want to hide behind a "natural process" so that it wasn't you that killed them, or helping them on their way with a shot and saving them the potential for great suffering?

And yes, there is a test on the subject. You get it every time you have to make this decision for a pet, and every time you're watching someone you loved die this way because they had a "living will".

We need to get our heads clear on this subject and think it through in a way we have yet to do. This is in part because every time it comes up someone trots out the "Nazi card". It also happens because some people want to carry the concept to an (il)logical extreme. In the meantime, people who are going to die regardless are dying horribly rather than less horribly (as I see it).

Pol Mordreth said...

I gotta agree with Freeholder here. Severe bowel atresia means that the poor kid was born without large portions of intestines and / or colon, possibly including gallbladder and rectum. If the atresia is so severe that surgery cannot fix it, the child is going to die. On top of that, since there is no path for waste you cannot continue nutrition.

Invoking the Nazi imagery here is completely misguided. The quoted article is from a doctor trying to determine how to reduce the suffering of both the infant and the parents / family when the state expressly forbids euthanasia.


Roberta X said...

Pol: it's still difficult to read the cold, clinical discussion of dieing babies and not be moved.

A lot of the problem is that medical care is really good -- so good it can save newborns, preemies who once would have died far more rapidly, if they survived delivery at all; but it not so good as to save all of the ones it keeps alive.

Who decides? Parents, doctors, the State? G-d? Seems like $DIETY left it as "a problem for the student."

Pol Mordreth said...

@ Roberta,
Understood, although I prefer to read clinical reports. Easier on my heart, I suppose. My comments were more directed at the other commenters, I guess. The piece read to me as a real attempt at figuring out how to make the process easier on the infant and the parents when the decision is made to allow them to die. Since current laws prevent active assistance in the process, all you can do is stop keeping them alive and let nature run its course. I think it's barbaric, personally. When there is nothing more that medicine can do to keep your child alive there are still things they can do to make the end easier.


Frank W. James said...

To clarify a point: WE ALL ARE GOING TO DIE.

The question is: WHEN, HOW AND WHERE?

If you don't treat Human Life as sacred, then WHAT Authority gets to make THE decision WHEN YOU are going to die?

There is a difference between Human Life and that of a Dog, or at least I believe there is...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Pol Mordreth said...

@ Frank James,
The authority to make that decision is vested in each of us individually. For my children, my wife and I have to make that decision with advice from doctors and religious advisers. For myself I have vested that authority in certain people I trust to carry out my wishes should I be brain dead but physically alive.

My issue is that starvation is the only way that this is allowed to be performed. It feels like a throwback to the catholic rule that the only acceptable method of suicide is fasting, as all other methods show a lack of faith in God. As Freeholder said, we wouldnt do this to a dog. Why do we treat terminally ill people so horribly?

@ Joanna,
Nutrition and hydration are life support, by definition, as removing them ends life. Unfortunately the powers that be have decreed that this is the only way a terminally ill person or vegetative state person may die earlier.

When your pet is terminally ill do you keep feeding them and let them slowly waste away in agony? Do you instead withhold all food and water and allow them to starve to death to end their pain sooner? No, you take them to the vet and give them a shot to end their suffering. That should be available for people as well.


The Freeholder said...

Roberta asks:

Who decides? Parents, doctors, the State? G-d? Seems like $DIETY left it as "a problem for the student."

You decide--it really is a problem for the student. Difficult thought it may be, it's way too important for anyone else to make the call.

If we as a society weren't such wimps about the subject of death, we would enable people to make it very clear that "In this circumstance, I get the shot." They would be allowed to place their trust in someone else to make it for them in a case that they didn't' foresee. Or not, as that person's conscious dictates.

But we should not make it as difficult as it is. I have seen, first hand, just how the process works. I was an active participant in it. I didn't like it, but the other alternative was worse--far worse. What made it even worse is that I know there is a better way. But I swallowed my distaste and unease, along with my moral qualms, and did what was necessary.

I don't want to die, ever, in any manner. However, since that is unlikely to happen, I would like some more/better say-so in just how it occurs if it comes down to having a lot of advance warning.