Thursday, November 10, 2011

Patients in a So-called Vegetative State are Aware

19% of Patients in a Vegetative State are Aware

Lancet has published articles in the past which have indicated that patients who are said to be in a vegetative state are aware in many cases.  Of course, this has not slowed down those who wish to deprive them of life-sustaining treatment.  Many of these patients are given the poorest of treatment and many are dehydrated to death.  I have seen first hand what is done in such cases.  I was involved in one case in which a court turned the control over to a wife who stopped the feeding and hydration of her husband after she had apparently lost all affection for him.

2 comments:

Melissa said...

what i don't like is the Church allowing "brain dead" to be the rule for heart transplants. brain dead has no real definition and i have asked and have never found an answer to the question of when does the soul leave the body. if the soul is present until all blood stops flowing and all organs cease to function, than how is a heart transplant ok'd by the Church? so i must be wrong on when the soul would leave the body...do you know the answer? peace!

Fr. Richard said...

Melissa,

In spite of what some would have you think, the concept of brain death is fraught with controversy and peril. The Church adheres to the "dead donor" rule when it comes to the donation of unpaired vital organs. The Church requires that the donor be, in fact, dead, which means that the soul has left the body. By acknowledging that neurological criteria could establish the fact of death, the Church is not abandoning the dead donor rule. This, however, is where the water gets murky. What kind of evidence is necessary to establish "irreversible cessation of all brain function"? That has never been identified by the Church and I do not think it could be. In fact, the Popes have said that is left to the medical profession. However, there are clear principles that apply here. The criteria used and the way the evidence is used to establish death must establish with moral certainty that the patient is truly dead. This cannot be a guess. There are many people, inside and outside the Church, and on both sides of the issue of brain death who no longer believe that the brain death hypothesis is useful.