More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Friday, June 19, 2009

Could You Unplug Your Loved One and Let Him Go?

My uncle underwent open-heart valve replacement surgery three times. During the third operation to replace his valves and repair an aneurism, his left lung was sliced open when his breastbone was being separated to access his chest cavity. The heart surgery was a complete success, which gave his family hope that he would make it. The damage done to the lung though was so severe that he was not expected to live. My family continued to hope for his survival.

With narcotics, and the help of a mechanical ventilator, he remained unconscious for weeks. When he finally woke up, unable to talk, he was given a paper and pen with which to write. The only word he managed to weakly scribble was “DIE.”

Prior to this, he had signed a document which gave his wife, and his medical staff, permission to decide what procedures would be done for him. Because of this, he gave away his power to choose. Even though he expressed his desire for passive euthanasia, he had several more surgeries as his wife exercised the rights assigned to her in his living will. To my knowledge, none of his physicians conducted an end-of-life discuss with my family, (such as the type mentioned by Dr. Milstone in chapter two of my book More than Meets the Eye about Death, Dying, and Afterlife), to help them make a decision about life support or to let him go and prepare for his death. Therefore, they continued hoping against all odds that he would recover.

After several months of intravenous feeding, he weighed only 108 pounds. A tracheotomy was performed to relocate his breathing tube, in hopes of allowing him to take nourishment by mouth. He was unable to swallow, so another surgery was performed to place a feeding tube in his stomach. His body made several attempts to carry out the will of his soul, which was to die. He contracted staphylococcal infection, then pneumonia. An aneurysm appeared in the vein where the IV had been, and had to be surgically repaired. Then a drug allergy, an intestinal infection, Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), and gall bladder inflammation threatened. The longer he lay confined to a hospital bed, the more depressed he became. His doctor prescribed Zoloft to alleviate his depression.

My uncle wanted to leave his body, yet my family, with good intentions, continued to hold him back.

How do you feel about unplugging someone and letting them go? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts on humane euthanasia.


Elaine W said...

We went thru a similar scenario a few years back w/ my mom. Painful, but feel "letting go" was by far the better option.

A year ago, my husband had angiogram & potentially open heart surgery. Before the procedure, blessedly only a stent required, we BOTH updated our wills and durable powers of attorney. Both of us under 60, but still felt it important, VITAL in fact, to give potential survivors the tools (and empowerment) to make good decisions.

Yvonne Perry said...

Thanks for sharing, Elaine. I'm glad you took your power into your own hands and got those wills updated. A living will takes the pressure off the family in a situation that is already emotionally charged.