My grandmother suffered an intracranial hemorrhage that left her severely brain damaged and unable to communicate. With no living will or documentation regarding her medical treatment, we were left with the difficult task of deciding the course of her medical treatment. Breathing tubes, feeding tubes, and several other long-term medical decisions needed to be made without my grandmother being able to explain her wishes. It is a situation that roughly 30% of patients with life-threatening conditions find themselves in.
For months, my grandmother lived on a number of medical machines that kept her alive, lungs breathing and heart pumping. She made no improvement cognitively and remained fully dependent on mechanical ventilation. With a heavy heart, my grandfather and his children reached the difficult conclusion that she would not wish to be maintained on machines indefinitely. She was removed from life support and passed away shortly thereafter. While I agree with the decision they made, not everyone sees it the same way. Is ending a life willingly ever right? Or is maintaining a human being indefinitely on life support just as unethical?
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