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  #1  
Old Jun 18, '09, 10:03 am
distracted distracted is offline
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Default When is it OK to remove life support?

i am wondering if you know more about this than this googled info (below) tells on Ruth Graham choosing to be taken off life support.

Would the Roman Catholic Church approve of her deicsion? When is it OK to do such things? I don't know much about the Church's position on this but thought that the Church would not normally approve unless the person was in a persistent vegetative state (Terri Schiavo was NOT but got killed anyway.. )

thanks.


"On Monday, June 11, at Ruth's request and subsequent to consultation with her family.. was removed from life support. On June 13, 2007, following her decline into a semi-coma, Billy Graham announced that he and his wife had decided to be buried beside each other at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.[5] She died at 5:05 p.m. EDT June 14, 2007, at her home, Little Piney Cove, in Montreat, North Carolina, with her husband and five children at her bedside. [6] A private ceremony followed by burial on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library was held on Sunday, June 17, 2007.[7]"
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Old Jun 18, '09, 11:54 am
livi livi is offline
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

I didn't know that it was ever okay...can someone help me on this too?
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Old Jun 18, '09, 12:04 pm
distracted distracted is offline
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

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Originally Posted by livi View Post
I didn't know that it was ever okay...can someone help me on this too?
that was my thought.. but i think there are instances where it is OK??? yet, again, i don't know.. so don't want to say for sure..

i think the Church says its OK if only extra-ordinary means can keep the person alive...

but food and hydration are not to ever be removed... as happened in Sciavo case..
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  #4  
Old Jun 18, '09, 12:28 pm
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

Directives

55. Catholic health care institutions offering care to persons in danger of death from illness, accident, advanced age, or similar condition should provide them with appropriate opportunities to prepare for death. Persons in danger of death should be provided with whatever information is necessary to help them understand their condition and have the opportunity to discuss their condition with their family members and care providers. They should also be offered the appropriate medical information that would make it possible to address the morally legitimate choices available to them. They should be provided the spiritual support as well as the opportunity to receive the sacraments in order to prepare well for death.

56. A person has a moral obligation to use ordinary or proportionate means of preserving his or her life. Proportionate means are those that in the judgment of the patient offer a reasonable hope of benefit and do not entail an excessive burden or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.40

57. A person may forgo extraordinary or disproportionate means of preserving life. Disproportionate means are those that in the patient's judgment do not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or entail an excessive burden, or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.41

58. There should be a presumption in favor of providing nutrition and hydration to all patients, including patients who require medically assisted nutrition and hydration, as long as this is of sufficient benefit to outweigh the burdens involved to the patient.

59. The free and informed judgment made by a competent adult patient concerning the use or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures should always be respected and normally complied with, unless it is contrary to Catholic moral teaching.

60. Euthanasia is an action or omission that of itself or by intention causes death in order to alleviate suffering. Catholic health care institutions may never condone or participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide in any way. Dying patients who request euthanasia should receive loving care, psychological and spiritual support, and appropriate remedies for pain and other symptoms so that they can live with dignity until the time of natural death.42

61. Patients should be kept as free of pain as possible so that they may die comfortably and with dignity, and in the place where they wish to die. Since a person has the right to prepare for his or her death while fully conscious, he or she should not be deprived of consciousness without a compelling reason. Medicines capable of alleviating or suppressing pain may be given to a dying person, even if this therapy may indirectly shorten the person's life so long as the intent is not to hasten death. Patients experiencing suffering that cannot be alleviated should be helped to appreciate the Christian understanding of redemptive suffering.

62. The determination of death should be made by the physician or competent medical authority in accordance with responsible and commonly accepted scientific criteria.

http://www.usccb.org/bishops/directives.shtml#partfive
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  #5  
Old Jun 18, '09, 12:29 pm
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.

2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.
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  #6  
Old Jun 18, '09, 12:33 pm
reginacaeli reginacaeli is offline
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

I did some checking online. There isn't enough public information available that I've seen to be able to determine whether what Ruth decided to do was licit.

There are cases when tube feeding can be withdrawn, especially if the body is no longer able to process the nutrients and continuing to receive the tube feeding is resulting in more pain for the person dying, even as the body is shutting down. Given her age and other known recent health history, it is possible that her body wasn't able to absorb nutrients anymore.

That was the case with my mother, who died earlier this year of ovarian cancer. In her case, she'd gotten another bowel obstruction (tumors) and the feeding she was receiving through her heart wasn't able to be processed, so she was vomiting between 6-10 times a day (when she had injested only a little water). She vomiting the stuff from the IV. The stomach would go into spasms trying to expel the stomach contents through the intestines before she finally vomited. This caused her great pain that pain meds (morphine) wouldn't touch. An anti-spasmodic might have worked, but the only drugs of that type available in this country are taken by mouth. Even with that, she would have had pain from her stomach filling up and not being able to expel the contents. An NG tube has its own discomforts (it sucks out stomach contents up through the throat and out through the nose) and Mom said she didn't want one again.

Seriously, in a case like Ruth's, where it's plausible that food could no longer be processed, without information to the contrary, we need to give the benefit of the doubt.

ETA: Of course, the directives and pertinent sections of CCC need to be followed.
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  #7  
Old Jun 18, '09, 12:36 pm
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SMOM View Post
Directives

55. Catholic health care institutions offering care to persons in danger of death from illness, accident, advanced age, or similar condition should provide them with appropriate opportunities to prepare for death. Persons in danger of death should be provided with whatever information is necessary to help them understand their condition and have the opportunity to discuss their condition with their family members and care providers. They should also be offered the appropriate medical information that would make it possible to address the morally legitimate choices available to them. They should be provided the spiritual support as well as the opportunity to receive the sacraments in order to prepare well for death.

56. A person has a moral obligation to use ordinary or proportionate means of preserving his or her life. Proportionate means are those that in the judgment of the patient offer a reasonable hope of benefit and do not entail an excessive burden or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.40

57. A person may forgo extraordinary or disproportionate means of preserving life. Disproportionate means are those that in the patient's judgment do not offer a reasonable hope of benefit or entail an excessive burden, or impose excessive expense on the family or the community.41

58. There should be a presumption in favor of providing nutrition and hydration to all patients, including patients who require medically assisted nutrition and hydration, as long as this is of sufficient benefit to outweigh the burdens involved to the patient.

59. The free and informed judgment made by a competent adult patient concerning the use or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures should always be respected and normally complied with, unless it is contrary to Catholic moral teaching.

60. Euthanasia is an action or omission that of itself or by intention causes death in order to alleviate suffering. Catholic health care institutions may never condone or participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide in any way. Dying patients who request euthanasia should receive loving care, psychological and spiritual support, and appropriate remedies for pain and other symptoms so that they can live with dignity until the time of natural death.42

61. Patients should be kept as free of pain as possible so that they may die comfortably and with dignity, and in the place where they wish to die. Since a person has the right to prepare for his or her death while fully conscious, he or she should not be deprived of consciousness without a compelling reason. Medicines capable of alleviating or suppressing pain may be given to a dying person, even if this therapy may indirectly shorten the person's life so long as the intent is not to hasten death. Patients experiencing suffering that cannot be alleviated should be helped to appreciate the Christian understanding of redemptive suffering.

62. The determination of death should be made by the physician or competent medical authority in accordance with responsible and commonly accepted scientific criteria.

http://www.usccb.org/bishops/directives.shtml#partfive

i can't believe this is from the Catholic Church.. because it makes it seem like the patient should make a choice based on the cost of the treatment... and the Church does not put a price on human life...
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Old Jun 18, '09, 12:41 pm
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twopekinguys twopekinguys is offline
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

Actually, the church says it is ok to discontinue medical treatment, as in refusing medication, and medical treatments. It is important to remember that food and water should never be withheld from the individual.

I had to discontinue medical support for my mother on Christmas Eve 2006, after consulting with her medical team, her pastor, and my priest. I should also add that I had spoken with her quite extensively about end of life issues prior to actually having to go through this.

I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, it was by far the hardest decision I ever had to make.

This quote has been taken from USCCB.org at http://www.usccb.org/prolife/program...ndling05.shtml

"Especially at the end of life, when it is clear that death is imminent and inevitable no matter what medical procedures are attempted, one may refuse treatment "that would only secure a precarious and burdensome prolongation of life, so long as the normal care due to the sick person in similar cases is not interrupted."viii Even at the stage of terminal illness when proportionate and effective treatment is no longer possible, however, palliative care is still appropriate and needed. The aim of such care can include alleviating many kinds of physical, psychological and mental suffering. Such care, said John Paul II, may involve a team of specialists with medical, psychological and religious qualifications who work together to support the patient in facing death.ix "
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Old Jun 18, '09, 12:41 pm
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

It is unclear what the form of "life support" was upon which she relied. She was in a "semi-coma" due to pnuemonia. If the "life support" was a respirator, and there was little hope that she would ever recover, the removal was probably OK. If the 'life support" was a feeding a hydration tube, the analysis gets more difficult.

I think we need to give the family the benefit of the doubt.
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Old Jun 18, '09, 12:44 pm
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

Quote:
Originally Posted by distracted View Post
i can't believe this is from the Catholic Church.. because it makes it seem like the patient should make a choice based on the cost of the treatment... and the Church does not put a price on human life...
Well, it is from the USCCB. Take it for what it is worth.
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Old Jun 19, '09, 12:27 pm
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

I do not know details of this case - but my mother lived on a respirator for over 1 year. We were told at the beginning of that by the hospital to essentially dope her up so she can die quickly. She was aware but had extream difficulty communicating. After about a month, they told us that they were going to have to pull the feeding tube, and she would most likely die. Due to insurance, we had her transferred to a rehab facility instead.

Day one at the rehab facility they gave her a fork and she started eating. By the weekend she was talking (both with the trake), she was also given a rosary by someone from the neighboring catholic church. She spent most of her final year in good spirits, finding peace, and ultimately praying the rosary.

Anyway, while there is often no recovery from a respirator, it does not necessary mean your life becomes worthless.
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Old Jun 19, '09, 8:11 pm
Oscarthecat Oscarthecat is offline
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

Quote:
Originally Posted by distracted View Post
i can't believe this is from the Catholic Church.. because it makes it seem like the patient should make a choice based on the cost of the treatment... and the Church does not put a price on human life...
I think that's a bit unfair.

I have never interpreted this to mean that the Church is "putting a price" on human life. It is a simple acknowledgment that there are limits to what we can and should do in prolonging our lives.

The Church is addressing a couple of critical issues people struggle with in their last days...

1. financial ability to pay for extraordinary means of sustaining life does not impart a moral obligation to do so. Sure, my family may be able to keep my brain dead body on a ventilator for years, but I wouldn't want them to because (among other reasons) I would rather that money be used to keep a roof over my children's heads while they're growing up.

2. inability to afford for extraordinary means of sustaining life does not constitute a moral failure. I would think that most people would find a tremendous amount of relief in the realization that they are not morally required to provide medical treatments that they simply cannot afford.
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Old Jun 20, '09, 9:26 am
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Default Re: When is it OK to remove life support?

Quote:
Originally Posted by reginacaeli View Post
I did some checking online. There isn't enough public information available that I've seen to be able to determine whether what Ruth decided to do was licit.

There are cases when tube feeding can be withdrawn, especially if the body is no longer able to process the nutrients and continuing to receive the tube feeding is resulting in more pain for the person dying, even as the body is shutting down. Given her age and other known recent health history, it is possible that her body wasn't able to absorb nutrients anymore.

That was the case with my mother, who died earlier this year of ovarian cancer. In her case, she'd gotten another bowel obstruction (tumors) and the feeding she was receiving through her heart wasn't able to be processed, so she was vomiting between 6-10 times a day (when she had injested only a little water). She vomiting the stuff from the IV. The stomach would go into spasms trying to expel the stomach contents through the intestines before she finally vomited. This caused her great pain that pain meds (morphine) wouldn't touch. An anti-spasmodic might have worked, but the only drugs of that type available in this country are taken by mouth. Even with that, she would have had pain from her stomach filling up and not being able to expel the contents. An NG tube has its own discomforts (it sucks out stomach contents up through the throat and out through the nose) and Mom said she didn't want one again.

Seriously, in a case like Ruth's, where it's plausible that food could no longer be processed, without information to the contrary, we need to give the benefit of the doubt.

ETA: Of course, the directives and pertinent sections of CCC need to be followed.
thank you..

and i am very sorry for what your mother went through.. sounds awful.. and i have often thought that i could not live long in great pain. I had a tooth ache one time & the pain was so bad i wanted to die NOW.. I thoght about how it would be to be in that kind of pain indefinitely... and how i can u/stand someone not wanting to go on ..

i guess a lot of the wording of that thing, even by the catechism sounds kind of... vague. But i am not familiar with end of life issues... have never seen anyone die.. so What do i know??

all i do know is that Terri Schiavo was not PVS & should not have been starved to death. That was clear as day. .. very weird story...

reminds me of that psg in the Bible: "In the last days, because of iniquity, the love of many will grwo cold."

which you can see happening more and more/ worse & worse every day...

but anywya..
God bless..
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