How to know when enough is enough with life saving measures?


My father has been in the hospital 13 weeks. He had a brain abcess and wasn’t expected to survive. He did survive, but is gravely ill. His biggest obstacle right now is his left lung will not stay inflated. He has had numerous bronchiotomies to clean out the lung. These are trying for him, but he has no short term memory so its short term suffering. The doctors are saying that the lung may never get better because he must be able to get up and help himself to help the lung. However, he can’t do physical therapy because his oxygen drops. He is never fully orientated, but last night I had prayed he would be able to give us imput on his wishes. When we asked him if he wanted a machine to breathe for him if necessary, he teared up and said “well, I don’t want to die”. He is only 54 and he acts very childlike now. The doctors are saying we should be doing comfort measures and even possibly send him home to die. We feel like this would be murder. He has a feeding tube and we would never agree to withholding food or water. Is cleaning out a lung extraordinary means? Even though my father is not fully himself, his words were very clear that he doesn’t want to die. Should we be seeking other medical advice? Please advise!


I recommend a consultation with the National Catholic Bioethics Center. You are in our prayers.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit