A Very Odd Dilemma
What would you do if you received this message from people you love?
“We are preparing official documents to avoid unnecessary life support systems in the final stages of our lives.
We are both expecting to pass with dignity.
If you agree to our wish, please respond with your views. Notary Public officials will want your name and contact details in addition to your consent.”
This made me extremely uncomfortable, but after careful deliberation, my response was as follows -
“Whilst I completely understand your wishes to a dignified end of life, physicians in many countries are required to take a Hippocratic Oath that binds them to preserve life. I am not too clear of the legal situation for physicians in your country, but for example, in the U.S., 98% of physicians do take this oath.
I would only sanction the termination of life support system if your physicians advise that your health has deteriorated to a stage where, even with the best-case scenario for recovery, life cannot be enjoyed independently without the need for life impeding medical support. One such example would be if either of you were facing an irreversible degenerative disease where continued existence may prove worse than death. Upon the advice and recommendations of your physicians, and with best regard to the legality of the action, I would fully support a decision to terminate life support for both (insert names).”
Fortunately the couple in question is extremely healthy and I suspect have many good years ahead of them. But the request is something I cannot relate to quite yet. Perhaps it is something that everyone needs to address.
I am reminded of a movie that was shown in class during my school years “Whose Life is it Anyway” with Richard Dreyfuss. In the movie, a sculpture is involved in a car accident and is paralyzed from the neck down. You end up rooting for the guy to win his court battles to end life support.
Perhaps it was harsh to force this movie down the throats of young students, but it certainly grabbed my attention.
Do share with me your thoughts. I am still wrestling with my response.
Dean Owen is Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment.
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