I am frustrated and saddened when I hear friends or relatives say—or should I say brag?—that if their medical condition ever becomes hopeless then it is their wish that physicians withhold or remove artificial life support.
To Whom It May Concern: If my medical condition ever deteriorates to the point that some or all physicians consider my case hopeless, then it is my fervent wish that health care providers do everything they can to preserve my life and restore my health.
There are several reasons why I feel this way:
Life is short; we have all of eternity to be dead. What's the rush?
Telling health care providers to withhold or remove life support is like saying “I don’t value my life too highly, so don’t try your best to save me.”
Doctors are sometimes wrong. There have been many times that a patient recovered after doctors pronounced their case hopeless.
Committees of doctors are even more likely to be wrong. I don’t want a committee deciding that keeping me alive is too expensive or that pulling the plug on me will free up limited resources.
It is foolish to delegate decisions about your fate to others. People you don't know well or don’t know at all may become involved.
According to the Hippocratic Oath, doctors must “never do harm.” Allowing exceptions corrupts that oath.
Our schools and leaders implore us to put the common good above self interest. People are conditioned to believe that an individual on life support is a burden to everyone else. Now hear this: I am an individualist and I reject this view.
I love life and hate death. I have a wonderful family and, career-wise, am pursuing my dream. Even if my chance of returning to reasonable health is extremely faint, why would I preemptively extinguish that chance?
Your article brought a smile to me this morning, life is short, and I have had a few medical things done to prolong my life. So far, so good. I am not sure which I would be better/worse off with : committee of doctors or committee of family? There is always that chance - that black swan occurrence.
I am leery of anything done by committee. Several years ago, there was an Internet chess match: Garry Kasparov vs. the World. The World team consisted of ordinary Internet users guided by a panel of experts, and its moves were decided by voting. Kasparov won.