When you think of the term pro-life, you most likely picture about someone who is against abortion. However, there is more to this larger ethical debate than just abortion. Other examples include the application of the death penalty in the U.S. penal system, and the “right to die” movement in some U.S. states (referred to by opponents as assisted-suicide).  There are many different aspects of the pro-life argument – you may find yourself agreeing with some and in disagreement with others. However, there is another example that you may not have considered. What happens when a person is declared brain dead, but the family refuses to take him or her off of life support? This is the case for Jahi McMath.

brain dead

Jahi McMath

Jahi McMath suffered from sleep apnea, and in 2013 underwent surgery in an attempt to correct it. However, things went horribly wrong – she lost massive amounts of blood and went into cardiac arrest. Doctors informed her family members that she was brain dead, and that there was no chance for her to ever wake up. However, her family would not accept that diagnosis, even though the hospital informed them that they would not continue her life support. There were several criteria the doctors used to determine that she was completely brain dead:

  • She showed no brain activity on an electroencephalogram
  • Her brain did not have any blood flow
  • She did not breathe on her own

She was eventually transferred to a Catholic hospital in New Jersey. New Jersey is the only state in which a family can declare a religious objection to a person being declared brain dead because of neurological symptoms. She spent months in a hospital before being moved to an apartment.

At the apartment, she has a 24-hour nurse care team. They have seen her make several movements, which her family claims are on command, such as moving her arm and leg. However, neurologists say this is a common reflex in brain dead patients, stimulated by the spinal cord and not the brain.

In fact, every independent physician who has evaluated Jahi has declared she is dead. As of today, however, Jahi is still being cared for in a New Jersey apartment. The family has spent much of the past year attempting to convince officials in California to rescind her death certificate and declare her legally alive, but to no avail.

The outcome of this case will carry significant precedent. In all fifty states, a person who is declared brain dead is considered to be dead. The question here is whether or not this declaration can be challenged on religious grounds. If California ends up rescinding Jahi’s death certificate, what will likely follow is a political push for religious exemptions regarding certain kinds of deaths – the ramifications of which would be difficult to predict.

In January, a California judge issued a ruling offering the family of Jahi McMath a chance to prove that she is alive. This will be exceedingly difficult, however, because they will either have to present medical proof that Jahi’s brain death diagnosis was erroneous, or in a broader sense prove that brain death is not equivalent to death. Most likely, the family will soon be facing a hard choice.

Other Cases

There have been other cases similar to Jahi’s in the past.  Oftentimes, they involve a person who has been taken off life support after life-saving measures have proved ineffective. Perhaps one of the most publicized stories was that of Terri Schiavo, a woman who was in a non-reversible persistent vegetative state after having a massive heart attack in her home.

She was unable to swallow on her own, so she required a feeding tube. However, she was not on life support, and never declared brain dead. After a seven-year deliberation between her husband (who wanted to take her feeding tube away in order to let her “die in peace”) and her parents (who wanted to keep her alive), her feeding tube was removed and she slowly starved to death.

Brain Dead Patients Waking Up

Although rare, there have been cases of patients who were declared brain dead waking up suddenly, sometimes after spending years in a coma. Colleen Burns was diagnosed by doctors with irreversible brain damage. However, just as she was about to be taken back for her organs to be donated, she woke up on her own. Another woman, Taylor Hale, was in an accident where she fell off the hood of a car. Her doctors told the family there was no way she could come back from that kind of brain damage. However, after some prayer, she woke up. Despite having no memories from before the accident, she lives a normal life.

Does Brain Dead Mean Dead?

No matter what side of the pro-life debate you are on, it is apparent that important issues are at stake in Jahi McMath’s case. Her family, in utilizing a religious exemption for her declared death, may encourage other families in similar situations to do the same. While everyone has a right to life, the question arises – how far does this right extend? Life support machines are quite expensive to operate. If brain dead people continue to receive care, who should pay for it? For example, if the McMath family wins their case, they will likely request federal medical and disability benefits in Jahi’s name. Not all taxpayers would be content seeing their tax dollars go to care for a patient that doctors have decidedly declared as dead.  As a society, where should we draw the line?

40 comments

  1. eric says:

    heavy subject, I think if a person cant function without life support we are prolonging gods decision

    1. Jocelyn Maminski says:

      I agree with you. God has his reasons for allowing certain events to occur and who are we to challenge his decisions. I believe that at some point in the process we could even be considered insubordinate to him. When God calls for us we are to go to him. As he has promised he has something far better in store for us. I will be honored to answer when God calls upon me. I pray my family will allow me to answer God if I am in a state where I am unable to answer for myself.

      Rev. Jocelyn M.

    2. Evangelist, Creto Howard says:

      imagine being the one unconscious, or maybe they think you can’t hear them but you can, and they don’t hear you crying to let you go into eternity. scary!!

  2. Pastor Deb says:

    It is of course difficult for families to see loved ones like this especially their own child. Yes we see things we might call miraculous in these situations. But it is rare.

    I think looking at it from a financial perspective may really be yo most logical way to go.

    Insurance pays whatever their maximum is and the family can appeal to insurance company extend benefits. Not an easy battle and the family is more likely than not yo lose.

    This where the problems become very. If a patient stays longer than insurance will pay, the cost now goes to the next of kin (spouse, parents, or adult children). Now the choice and cost of life support is on them. They can’t afford it and continue to pay their own bills. So what do the do they apply for government benefits, and even if they get those benefits they are just on a New timeline in y Il the government benefits have been exhausted.

    Meanwhile we have this person who according to medical standards is dead. None of the family members want to admit defeat, but do you consider what your child whose brain has been flatlining for over a year what would m s ke them happy?
    Without brain function your body is clueless how to behave because the body part that’s in charge is broke and not sending messages. The brain tells us to breath an keeps our hearts pumping blood.

    If you want claim religious exemption, then you are saying you will care for the patient care yourself. You just took on a job that is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so you are essentially killing yourself as well.

    The medical community knows so little about the brain. Certainly, we do know a lot but compared with what don’t know about the brain, it seems minute.

    For the devout think about this….since you believe she is alive and maybe even accept the patient will never on this earth laugh cry or speak to you again, don’t you see that you aren’t trying to do what best for your child. What you are is being selfish. What if what you are doing is keeping her in limbo? What if the minute they pulled the plug your child was no longer in limbo but is having dinner with our Lord and his son Jesus Christ. Your selfishness is keeping your child from continuing the next steps on the stairway to heaven.

    At some point we all need face reality, deal with it and move on with the peace of knowing your child is with God an frankly a much better place than where we are.

    1. Nora says:

      Completely agree with your statement letting someone’s soul continue the journey they deserve. Thank you!

      1. Sharon Mcmann- Morelli says:

        I so agree with you. No artificial apparatus to prolong a persons journey.

  3. Brother John says:

    There are conflicting definitions of “dead” often due to moral and ethical considerations involving the removal of life support, the harvesting of transplantable organs and perhaps religious beliefs as well. As mentioned near the end of the article are the economic and emotional hardships involved for families living in a country without universal health care. Having the potentially crushing economic burden imposed by a “for profit” medical system (whether excessive payments are made directly to the medical facility or insurance companies, or indirectly through tax dollars) seems both immoral and unethical (some would say uncivilized). Imagine the trauma of a family with a dying loved one sitting in the hospital administrators office hearing…. “It’s hard to say what your total will be with the coverage you have… somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000 depending on the level of care you want to provide”. The underlying message being “how much do you love your mother” and similar to what families are subjected to at many funeral homes.

    http://truecostblog.com/2009/08/09/countries-with-universal-healthcare-by-date/

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2015/01/27/conservative-think-tank-10-countries-with-universal-health-care-are-economically-freer-than-the-u-s/#3be157669fac

    the irreversible cessation of all vital functions especially as indicated by permanent stoppage of the heart, respiration, and brain activity : the end of life Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary

    Death: 1. The end of life. The cessation of life. (These common definitions of death ultimately depend upon the definition of life, upon which there is no consensus.) 2. The permanent cessation of all vital bodily functions. (This definition depends upon the definition of “vital bodily functions.”) See: Vital bodily functions. 3. The common law standard for determining death is the cessation of all vital functions, traditionally demonstrated by “an absence of spontaneous respiratory and cardiac functions.” 4. The uniform determination of death. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1980 formulated the Uniform Determination of Death Act. It states that: “An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.” This definition was approved by the American Medical Association in 1980 and by the American Bar Association in 1981.

    The clear definition of death becomes critical involving organ transplants….

    Removing organs for organ transplants from a body after death is permitted assuming that the statutory requirements are complied with. However, with technology constantly increasing in its abilities, the question of what can be done to preserve organs is an issue that is highly controversial. Organs are best preserved when left inside of a living body or beating heart cadaver. Consequently, this raises many issues when dealing with patients who are physically incapable of keeping themselves alive. In many cases, medical professionals try to keep a person “alive” for the sole purpose of preserving these organs. By doing this, future removal of these organs will be more effective in organ transplant patients. However, this is seen in many ways as violating the rights of the organ donor. Generally, if a patient is unable to give permission for medical treatment, they are only allowed to receive treatment if it is found that the treatment would be in their best interest. This raises the question of whether keeping a person alive to remove their organs is ethically correct. Another problem encountered in the topic of organ transplantation is the question of when it is permissible to remove organs from a body

  4. Bill Millhouse says:

    I have left instructions with my siblings that I do not want to be kept alive by machines–Pull the plug. I believe in reincarnation and it is a sign that it i time to move on to Tir Na nog to rest and recharge and then on to my next life

    1. Gwendolyn Lord says:

      And you are right, we do rest then return. I don’t understand the fear of death myself, since there are so many levels to the soul’s existence, and with faith, we should feel happy to progress from one space in time to another…

    2. Curtis says:

      I have the same instructions for my wife.

  5. Remy says:

    I find the core of this subject to be contradictory… or hypocritical, depending on your outlook.

    An event occurs that would result in someone’s death without medical intervention sustaining their life. And people will cite religion to keep them on life support. But isn’t the use of medical intervention a potential interference of religious belief in the first place?

    It’s difficult, because it can go both ways. God planned for that event to occur, but people interfere with the plan and sustain their life when their brain literally cannot sustain the body, and the body cannot sustain the brain (lack of blood flow). But then when faced with allowing nature to take its course, they refuse.

    It’s the core problem with citing religious beliefs as justification for things like this.

  6. Richard Nigh says:

    This reminds me of the book (and movie), “Johnny Got His Gun.” A young man went to war and was very seriously injured in a bombing. He lost all his limbs, was blind, deaf and dumb, and lost part of his brain. Doctors saw this as a chance to observe this poor man and didn’t think he could think at all. After quite a long time of nightmares and having no one but himself to converse with, he came upon the idea of moving his head and signing morse code. He told them that he wanted to die. Most of the doctors were appalled that they had let this man live who could still think. And yet, they would not put him out of the misery of loneliness and inability to do anything with his life. — Yes, there are times when life is not worth living.

  7. Rev. Robert says:

    Remove all financial aspects and look at the pure human situation. When your mind is gone and the cells of your body are being kept alive by external means, your body is more like a plant than a person. It is no longer the person we recognize. No hope. No dreams. No personality. No beliefs. No relationships, motivation or attitude. Therefor, no longer a living, viable person capable of thought, emotion or Love. Grieve the loss. Pull the plug!

    1. Anne says:

      I agree! That is why a Living Will is imperative! It is the person making the decision of what to do if he/she is in that state. I am grateful that my husband and I both had living wills drawn up years ago; they are free through the state of Arizona (not sure about other states). When his accident happened and I was named as his ‘agent’ in his living will, there was no question of withdrawing life support, because it was what HE wanted, if he was ever in a vegetative state. God speaks through us if we listen. I had the privilege of watching him go into the White Light, too; what a gift!

  8. Heggitha says:

    It’s terrible to value someone’s life (or death) in terms of money but it’s certainly easier to do so than in hard-to-quantify quality of life. It seems Jahi’s diagnosis is likely to be incorrect as she ‘should have’ deteriorated and succumbed long before now; however, her quality of life must be negligible and prolonging the agony of hope for her parents and the impact this is having on any siblings must also be considered. For all they cling to her, ultimately they will have to let her go.
    It is, to me, a sadness that ‘medical progress’ forces people to make such impossible choices for their loved ones. I almost envy earlier times where the question of diagnosing death was simpler – time pretty much resolved any doubts. I have always told my family to err on the side of death and a living will / advance directive is a useful thing for adults to have.
    As a society we need to look at why we fear death so much when it is inevitable, and the extent to which we should keep anyone alive by intervention.

    1. David G says:

      I specifically did just what this person suggests with a living will as well a medical power of attorney may be needed in most states. And also a some states may require a separate Power of medically necessary internment this is a filling for psychiatric treatment received. All these things need to addressed . Let’s say your a college age student and have an accident your parents don’t have the Right to tell the doctors do anything with your medical treatment. Especially if your not married in many states. It’s just going to make good sense to have your wishes known now. NOT later. This world today is not as it it used to be.

  9. Sandy Hubert Rasmussen says:

    In this day and age, I still can’t figure out why people think that they should be playing God– especially with someone that is considered brain-dead.
    It always makes me think of the book/movie, “Frankenstein”– and of course, everyone knows what the outcome was– basically, a zombie–
    What quality of life would that be?
    Especially when one has to be monitored 24/7!
    I think when the good Lord calls you home, you should go!

  10. Gwendolyn Lord says:

    If any of use, regardless of our faith path truly believe, then death is neither final, nor scary. QUALITY of life, the ability to get some enjoyment, express love, receive love, and learn, would be the marker for me. If someone chooses life support as something they would want, they should also think of the terrible draining effect this has on family and friends. EVERYONE should have signed, notarized “Advance Directives” indicating what policy they want for themselves in health crisis situations. There are markers we use for our pets…Can they eat, groom, and toilet by themselves? Interact and take the pet? WHY would people be different? We can euthanize a pet without this moral struggle. Why is the human animal made to be a more serious decision. I have worked in health care for over twenty years, and I AM an advocate for our patients/residents. But I see every day, questionable quality of life for some…And wonder if letting someone go, over to the other side is such a bad idea…

  11. George says:

    I’ve had this discussion many times with families. It isn’t easy, but the perspective I ask them to take is that of the patient. We are asking the family to be the voice of the patient to answer the question of what the loved one would want.

    There are anecdotal reports about people “waking up” from “coma”, and probably rare instances in which someone who has been declared brain dead has survived without a ventilator.

    The question is really whether this is what the patient would want. Would they want to have a feeding tube in their abdomen providing liquid nutrition? Would they want to survive with virtually no interaction with their environment? Would they want to develop the inevitable bed sores? In my experience people have not looked at the reality.

    One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the number of families who have never discussed end of life issues. When dealing with my parents’ deaths, knowing what their wishes were help tremendously in the decision making. I have made my wishes clear to my family.

    As we counsel people, I encourage them to share with their families what their end-of-life wishes are. It helps the families and it helps the person.

  12. Clarence says:

    If life support is removed , and the body can’t survive
    They are dead a machine is only supposed to be temporary !

  13. Bob Hadley says:

    Early 1988, I’m at work, Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island Washington, AIMD, my friend comes to my work space, Bob, come out to the passageway, we need to talk, he hands me emergency leave papers. You’re folks called, your brother Bill, has had an accident at work, ( Bill was a maintenance electrician, with Wisconsin Electric Power.) I head to Madison, where he’s in ICU, my Mom and Dad are there, younger brother and sister. Doctor says, he grabbed a transmission line, it was energized, 400,000 volts, mega amps, it was at a power sub-station. The voltage went from his left hand, through his upper body, out his right hand, blew him over a ten foot chain link fence. In the medivac helo, they revived him twice, revived him once more in the ER, now he was on life-support. His Hands Are suspended on a trapeze bar, as they are badly burned, and bandaged, Mom says “look at him, He’s waving!” No Mom, it’s random nerve firings, He’s gone. I say. Took me about an hour to convince Mom and Dad to let him go, the team collected corneas, and skin grafts, hopefully, some little girl can see now, as Bill would have wanted. When the decision was made, Dad asked if I would stay with him as he.passed, as he or my Mom couldn’t. I did, it took less than ten minutes to declare him dead, after removal of the life-support equipment, I dried one tear from his cheek. And he was gone. Was it the right thing to do? An autopsy was preformed, as it was a workplace accident. His brain, and heart and lungs sustained massive electrical burns, he wouldn’t, or couldn’t survive. Yes, it was the right thing to do, I know that, I KNEW that, still doesn’t make it any EASIER. That’s our job, to comfort. And be there.

    1. Jean Porgal says:

      Yes, you did the right thing for the right reason and I believe that you will be able to live with that guilt-free. Your parents were very fortunate to have an informed opinion and one which walked them through the procedure and to a point where they, too, could feel comfortable -albeing sad – with the decision.

      My brother-in-law suffered a brain stem stroke and the ONLY thing moving were his eyes. They begged to be let go and as he progressed downward the family did. He was only 56 years old but the family did the right thing.

      I personally, believe to hold on to what is a shell of that person existing in a body is totally cruel and in time families usually become angry and stop visiting Better to have it done as it should be while the organs can be harvested to help others giving that person and family a great legacy from which to draw strengty.

  14. Judy Riggenbach says:

    I had to face this decision. We lived in NJ when our youngest daughter was declared brain dead and we had to decide if we wanted to leave her on life support or take her off. Some very competent Drs told us there was deep brain stem lack of response. She could not breathe on her own. Yes, her heart was beating but only because of the machinery. The decision came down to did we keep her “alive’ on machinery because we couldn’t let her go or did we respect the fact that while her body was present she was not and let her go. We had them remove the machines. It was a horriffic moment for any parent, but, to leave someone you love in that state seems selfish to me. Do i regret that decision? Not at all. We miss her. We hurt for her loss, but we know we did what was best for her.

    1. jen says:

      Please share that with Jahi’s McMath’s mom. She’s moved to your state so her daughter can be on a machine for God knows how long. I had to make that decision also. It’s sad, but we need to learn to let go.

  15. Donna says:

    The brain is not our soul! If you can convince me that you can for certain proof when the soul leave the body then I can’t continue looking at this subject as a spiritual discussion. It’s all about who is right.

  16. Sister Cherie says:

    This story reminds me of Karen Ann Quinlan who, in 1975, became unconscious after she consumed diazepam, daexpersonall, propoxyphene, and alcohol while on a crash diet and lapsed into a coma, followed by a persistent vegetative state. After doctors refused the request of her parents, Joseph and Julia Quinlan, to disconnect Karen’s respirator, which they believed constituted extraordinary means of prolonging her life, her parents filed suit to disconnect Karen from her ventilator. The hospital did not want to be in trouble for homicide if they took her off of the respirator and it resulted in her death. Eventually, her parents won their suit, but when Karen’s ventilator was removed she lived. However, she never regained consciousness and was in a totally vegetative state until her death from respiratory arrest in 1985.

    Now the fight is just the opposite. The doctors want to take the patient off, but the family may not. I, personally, do not want to put the burden on my family. I have told them that if the doctors say there is no hope to please let me go Home.

  17. jen says:

    Brain death is death. Shhheesh!

  18. Jean Porgal says:

    Death With Dignity is that which is accomplished by NOT prolonging life articfically.

    My living will has express and detailed instructions that if I am unable to reach a point where I can retun home and live independently with my expected quality of life then no action is to be taken to extend what is no longer life.

    All of my family and friends have been informed of my last wishes and are in agreement as is my doctor. Anyone who challenges that is to be dropped from the list of people I have included IMMEDIATELY. It is MY life and MY decision.

    Further, at least in my case, I believe that I have A RIGHT to determine WHEN I have reached a point where, even though I may not have a terminal illness, life no longer has any meaning. I am tired, have no quality of life and quantity is not important. I should be allowed to, by my own hands, take my own life in a manner which is both humane to me and the least possible inhumane to my family. Living a miserable life warehoused in some nursing facility with no hopes of anything good is cruel and inhumane and the choice to end such should be left up to the individual.

    I realize that many people will disagree with this point of view but it is right for me and that is what counts.

  19. Charles says:

    The doctors are the expert in this area and should have the authority to to end a person life. Most family/friends would find it very difficult to made that decision. Giving this responsible to doctors would be giving the patient the respect to life and dignity they rightly deserve. Every person should have in writing or verbally tell their family and friends when to pull the plug on life supporting equipment.

  20. jiminizm says:

    No easy answers. If there were, how interesting would this be?

  21. Teresa says:

    Unless you are on that situation you can understand the feeling on making such decision. I just lost my husband 6 days ago I had to make such decision because of my love to him I gave him to God I m hurting real bad but I cant be selfish and had him suffering. Please pray for us to get that comfort

  22. Jim says:

    I have been told I need a organ transplant or I will die. I will die some day anyway. Medicine can do wonderful things, however I’ve taken good care of myself and if God is calling me I have no reservations. I made it clear in my medical directives and have completed my Living Will and assigned my MPOA to a person who will follow my wishes. We all have a right to life but also a right to have a natural death .

    1. Gwendolyn Lord says:

      Dear Jim,
      I admire your common sense. Although an organ transplant might prolong your life, it will not necessarily make it a better life, it you still have to be in the hospital, take medications that make you ill, and have the rest of the “machine” break down slowly and often painfully. We really ARE like automobiles, in that if a major car part goes, it can be replaced, or often fixed, and one will get some more drive time, but not with any assurance that the vehicle is safe, or will not require more and more costly repairs.
      We have ANOTHER life after this one in the current body, and it is beautiful, powerful and meaningful. Most of us will be back anyway, for another go ’round on the wheel. Be brave, be strong and spirit, and know that though your vehicle may be worn out with some parts, your soul is eternal.
      Blessings to you, in all ways, allways.

  23. cmdsgtmajor says:

    The easiest answer to this question is to get a living will, and specify exactly what YOU want done. My wife and I both have one and we will not be kept alive on a machine, running up mountains of debt that the family can never pay. Pull the plug and let the family grieve your loss and then move on with their lives.

    If there are no instructions, “living will” then it falls to the family to decide. And that is where things get touchy. You are right, No easy answer.

    1. Jean Porgal says:

      Unfortunately, even if you leave all of the instructions in some places if the family objects then the hospitals balk at the idea of pulling the plug. It has and will continue to happen. Best idea is DON’T notify those you think may object or who are wishy washy about what YOUR will is.

      They can challenge and it may end up being long drawn out and in a court. This SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN AFTER WE HAVE GONE TO THE LENGTHS TO PUT DOWN IN WRITING WHAT WE DO AND DO N.O.T. WANT but is does.

      That is why some people end up taking their own lives in a means that is not good for them or for those who find them. Have experience with this in my own family many years ago and it was not good. There should be well defined step by step rights in EVERY state to allow the person the right to die with dignity and until and unless this is done the challenges will continue to occur

      1. Crystal Ratcliffe BSN says:

        this is why you fill out a DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY (which is free only cost the price of notarization any hospital has the form) which legally designates a person to speak for you. No one in the family (yes even crazy aunt Matilda who hasn’t been seen in 20 years) can over ride it. I recommend any adult >18 have one and as circumstance change (marriage divorce) update as necessary.

        Even if the person you plan to have speak for you at this time is your parents or your spouse. Have a DPA cause if crazy aunt Matilda come out of the woodwork and says “do everything” the hospital will if there is no DPA in place.

  24. The Rev. Dr. Marion Ceruti says:

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    “Society” should not make these decisions. Instead, each of us should have a will or some other verifiable document that specifies in writing how far medical aid should go in keeping us alive. If this is not available, the families should make these decisions and discuss the matter before sickness or accidents happen. If you know what to do ahead of time, you will be in a better position to make decisions when the time comes.

    God has plan for everyone’s life. Each life has a beginning and an end. I urge everyone to pray about it and discuss with family these important topics. Don’t be afraid to do it as death is a part of life.

    My mother recently passed away and God granted me the privilege of being her personal pastor to coach her in her transition to the next life beyond the grave. She did not want any extraordinary measures to be taken to prolong her life when the end was near. She passed away quietly in her home, which was her wish.

    May the Lord bless you all with the wisdom to keep the faith and advise others in difficult times.

    The Rev. Dr. Marion Ceruti

  25. Crystal Ratcliffe BSN says:

    I am a critical care Nurse. With the right machines and drugs I can literally keep a dead body “alive” for days to weeks, but whom am I helping? Yes there is that one in a million who wakes up from “bread death” but what of the other 999,999 who do not wake up, who run up the bills, devastate their family, exhaust their resources, and tie up financial resources of governmental sources? They also take up ICU beds that can not be used for others whose access to these resources could literally be life or death with them having a guaranteed quality of life on discharge.

    It isn’t a matter of how much do you love your loved one (how much is it worth to you?) but is it kind? When I have to pull all the stops out to keep someone alive, and blood pressure is an issue, I often cannot give sedative, antianxiety agents or pain medicine because they affect blood pressure. So often, a person whose blood pressure is being controlled by blood pressure raising meds is not medicated for pain, anxiety in appropriate amounts. Therefore when they seem unresponsive, they may not be properly pain controlled.

    One of the hardest things I face in ICU is when we have done everything, and it was to no avail, and there is nothing else for us to do, but drag out the eventual death, and the family does not want to accept we have reached the point of futility of care. They want everything done, and wants to drag out the death. Yes we can drag it out for days to week, maybe months, but it will not change the final outcome, and the person it hurts the worst is the patient.

  26. Rev. Donna says:

    This is a very difficult subject. If a person is brain dead & has no quality of life what is the point in allowing them to linger? Are they keeping her alive for her, or them? it is not easy to say a final good bye to a beloved one, but allowing her soul to rise may be the greatest blessing for them all.

  27. patricia kleckner says:

    Excellent suggestions , I am thankful for the details – Does anyone know where my business could acquire a template IRS SS-4 example to use ?

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