Skip to main content

What do you think about the comatose woman who was taken off her feeding tube to die after being in a coma for 12 years? Should they have removed the tube? Should they just let her die or should they have continued feeding her?

Moreover, do we have a responsibility to preserve her life at all costs? Should "quality of life" be a consideration in determining what measures should be initiated to save one's life? Are there differences, then, in the value of some lives versus others? If so, who determines the value of one's life? What factors go into determining who should live and who should die?

What do you think?

There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life
that is less than the one you are capable of living. - Mandela


Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

I think quality of life is absolutely important in a decision like this. If one's life now consists of being hooked to a machine and they have no knowledge of life around them, that's not really living.

To compare two comatose victims to each other is silly. One could be a great composer of classical music and the other a house painter, but does it really matter if they have been hooked to a machine for twelve years. Everybody dies, people need to get use to the idea of letting people go with dignity instead of having them hooked up for 12 years with no chance of coming back. I have informed my wife if there is no chance of me coming back from something like that, please let me go, I would not want my family to go into financial hardship to keep a shell of me alive.
But is it man's right to end life? Does anyone believe that God could not bring this woman out of a coma if he so chose? Should we "play God" with another's life?

In this case the husband is in favor of letting her die, while her parents are against it. Who should have the greater weight in making this decision?

There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life
that is less than the one you are capable of living. - Mandela
This is an area where I have had some experience and there is a story I would like to share with all of you:

I was once forced to keep someone alive who did not have a living will. The adult children were at each other's throats. Their mother, a small, frail woman of 78 years had had open heart surgery which she went into very uncertainly. "Should I have it? Maybe I shouldn't." She had made these statements to many people, family and friends but put nothing in writing, nor had she made a definitve statement about her wishes. Each person she talked to was free to interpret her statements in their own way. The stage was set for conflict when things went very badly postop......

She had numerous complications, resulting in respiratory failure (on a vent), kidney failure (on dialysis), a stroke (with some amount of brain damage, the degree of which was never certain because the patient never regained consciousness for any significant amount of time) and of course, the omnipresent feeding tube.

We weaned her from the vent many, many times. Each time her respiratory status would slide back down and we'd reintubate. She'd never spoken a word without confusion or hallucination and spent most of her time in a kind of twilight existence. She had varying degrees of wakefulness, but no meaningful interaction. Long term recovery to any degree was doubtful and regaining her prior quality of life was never going to happen.

She was my patient one Sunday when again, her lung function began to spiral downward. I called the son who was her designated decision maker. He wouldn't even come to the phone. Instead, he relayed the message through his wife that they still wanted everything to be done. So I called the anesthesiologist, got a ventilator and respiratory therapist. The doc asked me twice if we had to do this....and then he looked me right in the eyes and said "I don't want to do this." I nodded, because I didn't want to do it either. We gave her some sedation and prepared to intubate. As he flexed her head back and inserted the tube, her eyes flew open and she said two words:

"It hurts."

The tube slid over the vocal cords, silencing her and the vent began to breathe for her again.

I will take the sound of her words and the message they carry to my grave.

I will take what passionate families say with more than a grain of salt.

I will advocate for patients' rights even if it is unpopular. Whether it is their right to live or their right to die, WHATEVER THE PATIENT WANTED PRIOR TO THEIR INFIRMITY IS EVERYTHING. WHAT THE FAMILY WANTS IS NOTHING.

And I will always, always practice in accordance with the law.

Guilt to assauge? Certainly. But it is not what you think. It's from causing pain with my own hands. Keeping people alive, from doing painful procedures while the family is comfortably out of the room, telling themselves that they've done the right thing, that doing everything all of the time is always right. They are not there to see the pain, to help with the dressing changes, or to even do the most basic sometimes - like turning the patient.

There have been days that I prayed on the way home that God will forgive me for the things I've had to do to keep 90+ year olds alive because the family isn't ready to let go.

For Terri, let her husband give custody to the parents or a guardian ad litem if he cannot prove what her wishes were. If there is not at least one other person who heard what those wishes may have been, since she had nothing in writing.

The bottom line is that this is the patient's life......when unable to speak for himself - what would he want done in the face of these odds? Would this person be happy that they were alive if left with devastating losses?

I could tell you other stories that would raise the hair on the back of your neck of things I've done with my own two hands because of "we want everything done"......"it's not her time"...."God would have taken her by now" etc. The second part of the bottom line is that God gave us free will. If we decide to keep our loved ones alive, we have all the technology to do that and we are very good at our jobs and God allows us the consequences of our actions . The only thing that keeps it from being deliberate torture is that someone means no harm......they just refuse to accept reality and think objectively. Of the thousands of souls who have passed through my care I can think of only one who went "at his time" despite all our best efforts. Interestingly enough, that patient had an angel in his room before he departed this life, but that is another story. Everybody else just gets a few more weeks of hell on earth.

If God forbids His name to be taken in vain, I often wonder what He thinks about people who hide behind His name (Again, I am not saying this is what these people are doing now, just that I have seen it done before many times.) Just as He gives us the intelligence to develop this technology, He gives us discernment and judgement as to when to employ it. He does not expect us to use all the technology all of the time.

Horrible things happen to good people. Injuries are treatable but not curable and death can be prolonged when life cannot be restored. Doesn't mean it is all Satan's doing. A celestial war is being waged, but not in the patient's body. I firmly believe that the people in those hospital beds are already being held by God. Satan doesn't stalk the corridors handing out pneumonia - it really doesn't work that way. The real war is in the heart of the person left making the decisions. I pray that they will understand that if they choose to withdraw treatment measures, that only means that the disease or injuries will take their natural course. Does not mean it is their fault, doesn't mean they didn't love the patient, does not mean that they caused his death by not using a ventilator, dialysis, a feeding tube, IV fluids or any of it. Certainly doesn't mean that Satan won. It only means that they acted in the best interest of their loved one, in accordance with what he/she would have wanted.

Sometimes that does mean letting go. Sometimes that means that allowing someone to go home to Jesus is the right thing. But it always means that we are to use our brains to think, to balance what we want to be true with what we know to be real, to use the resources that God put at our disposal to make the decision for someone else. Ultimately it is their life....and their death, their soul.

God does not condem us for allowing His children to go home.

"Unless you're sharing what you have, you don't have as much as you think you do."

Your words were very touching. I'm going to send my sister the link to your post. Her husband's family made the decision to "pull the plug" after his mother was in an auto accident. It was a very tough decision for them to make (so many tears) - but I thought they did the right thing. After reading your words - I am convinced of it. Thank you for posting your thoughts and experiences.
Originally posted by ThaWatcher:
There is a lesson here in all of this: _make sure you write a Wil_....

Not to be picky, but wills are for after death, so I persume you speak of a living will.

Now, with respect to any type of will, it can be contested on many levels. In this case for instance if she drew up aliving will that said I don't want to be on a ventilator for more than 5 days, what do you think the family would do if she started to show dramatic improvement between the 4th and 5th days? They would ask the court to invalidate the will because it clearly implied no hope in sight (but how would you spell that out).

The fact is as family they know her will, however each family member also has their own will involved hence the problem, will or not.


... its time for Prosperity

> > >

An African American Board Game Of Wealth & Success.


You touched on so many different topics in your single post it could start a dozen discussions. Therefore I cannot properly address your message as I truly would like.

I will say that to me the "it hurt" statement was proberbly a statement of fact, instead of a call to death. And if there was any death reference, perhaps she said to herself "I felt like I wanted to die, it hurt so bad."

The golden rule of doctors to "cause no pain" I belive is applicable here. However, perhaps because everyone came to the table (actually bed) with preconceived notions, rooted education and protocals, in addition to a wealth of experience they left all faith based hope, and care outside of that room.

Furthermore, I submit to you that at the point of 'hurt' the medical and health professionals were strickly 'doing their job' with regret mind you. That was not, I believe, what the family or the patient wanted.

How the Lord works is often mysterious yet at times very obvious. For some it may be very difficult to understand why an 80yr fraile woman can hang on so long, but it is obvious to me that she is hanging on. Therefore, for those consumed and confounded by the patient's death defying feats, they see the events only as a waste of resources because academically and professionally, according to the satistical data, it's a foregone conclusion -- "give it up".

However for those that see her conscious or unconscious desire to live, see a level of hope that medical and health professionals usually only reserve for the 'much younger'. A level of hope that is persued with faith and perserverance. A rare and righeous faith.

What if God wanted her to live like that so that her will (for her children to have a meaningful relationship with God) could be known through her. She might not have wanted the pain, she might not have wanted to have so many people, and resources involved in her will but sometimes thing are complicated. However, if you (medical and health professionals) are faithful, if you trust in the Lord, if you do the best of your ability, then you are part of the rightious solution instead of being a part of the plaguing problem.

Even in a living will, often in the way it is drafted, it does not take into account ones divine will for their family.
Herdswoman's words were indeed touching, and clearly outline her support for her patients' right to die.

I feel the florida case is different for this reason. The woman is not on a ventilator...she is breathing on her own and has some slight response to stimuli. I find it to be savage and brutal to remove her feeding tube and watch her starve to death for 10 days or more. Is it more humane to refuse a live human being food for nearly two weeks? This isn't the same as turning off the respirator and moments later watching a person's last breath.

while she may not have the "quality of life" she once had, she does have life and it is presumptuous for anyone to assert that she's better off dead.
From what I've read - there was a $750,000 medical fund set aside for her rehabilitation. The husband refused to allow them to even attempt to rehabilitate her. Upon her death, he receives whatever is left of that fund.

On two separate occasions - less than 9 months after she was awarded the money - the husband attempted to prevent doctors from treating infections that would've led to her death had they gone untreated.

I don't know what her chances for any type of recovery are - but I do think she should at least be given the chance. If these efforts fail - and the parents do not want her to continue in this state - then I'd agree. But for now - I'd like to see the money spent for what it was meant to be spent on rather than going into this man's pockets. Not to mention - the pockets of the girlfriend who is also anxiously awaiting her death - so they can be married.
I don't know about the husband but Terri is CATHOLIC. The do not go for this mercy killing garbage by and large.

Terri HAD been comatose, tis true. HOWEVER, SHE WOKE UP RECENTLY.

Isn't that odd? Why only now does the husband WANT her to die? Why not within the past 13 years? Why wait til NOW?

Terri's dad thinks that the reason is, now that she's awake, IF she ever fully recovers, that she could point the finger at him to ACCUSE HIM OF ATTEMPTED MURDER and COULD divorce him. The husband apparently wants her inheritance too.


Her parents should petition a civil court to have the husband REMOVED as guardian due to conflict of interest! NOT TOMMOROW NOT AFTER BREAKFAST!!! NOW!!!!

And why not, he's like got a girlfriend and children from this girlfriend! Why didn't he just divorce? Hmmmmmmmmm?

"You liberals with your conspiracy theories are starting to sound like your own version of the John Birch Society"-Rush Limbaugh

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.