Fill me up, Lord

"You will seek me, & find me when you seek me w/ all your heart," God says. But that is not the whole story. I'm not just a searcher. I'm also a hider. You too. We have to come face-to-face w/ our tendency to hide, to get lost. ~John Ortberg, Love Beyond Reason

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sustaining Life Medically/Alternatively/Nutritionally

Please read this article, and let me know your views. It is very thought-provoking, and just plain heartbreaking....It deals with the legal issues of what age is appropriate to decide when to stop cancer treatment.

this is a view posted on a message board I read:

As a doctor, I have had adult Jehovah's witnesses die in front of me because they refused a blood transfusion (for deeply held religious commitments) which would have saved them. It is actually a criminal offense for me to give a transfusion to a Jehovah's Witness who has refused it. This is their right and I don't challenge it. I have also been presented with a six year old boy who ruptured his spleen (slightly) when he fell off a playground slide. He was slowly bleeding to death over the course of several days. The treatment for this is for a surgeon to open his abdomen and stop the bleeding, but surgery causes even more bleeding. As the anesthesiologist, it's my job to transfuse patients who need it. His mother was a Jehovah's witness who refused consent for him to have a transfusion. The local children's protective services stepped in and asked a judge to grant them temporary custody of this child, which he did. After gaining temporary custody, they consented for me to give the boy a transfusion if I thought it was necessary to save his life during the surgery. That made it a criminal offense for me not to transfuse him if he needed it to save his life. Fortunately, the surgeon and I were able to get him through the surgery without a transfusion. So, he lived and everyone was happy. However, a six year old child will refuse a tetanus shot, refuse to take cough medicine, refuse to even go into a doctor's office if it's left up to him. A small child cannot be expected to make his own medical or religious choices and there's not much dispute about this.

But a 16 year old person is a tougher call. Chemotherapy is horrible and elderly patients refuse it all the time without argument from anyone. If they die sooner as a result, we accept it as their choice because we all know how unpleasant chemotherapy is. This young man has already had chemotherapy and therefore knows better than most of us how bad it feels. Yet, he is technically not yet 18 and so not yet able to (legally) decide for himself. The question then is weather he should be treated as a child who cannot decide for himself, or as an adult who should be left alone to decide for himself even if his decision shortens his life.

All judges have to live with the results of the decisions they make. Personally, I doubt that the judge is a fascist or a Nazi. I think it's much more likely that he dreads watching a 16 year person die. I've had that experience and understand his reluctance. And so, he followed the letter of the law, imposed treatment on this person knowing that the suffering from the chemotherapy can be blamed on the state law...While also knowing that the (quicker) death from the cancer cannot be put on him (even by himself). Since the young man in this article is not my patient or my son, I don't know if I agree with this decision, but I think I know how it was made...

I'd appreciate reading the responses of anyone who has an opinion on this article.


  • At 11:20 PM, July 23, 2006, Blogger nyukers said…

    I think 16 is old enough to decide if you want medical treatment or not--especially if he's already experienced Chemo.

    If it were my child--I'd take him to mexico or canada until he died and let them put me in jail for whatever it is they wanted to.

    I am a firm believer in quality of life over quantity.

    I also am a firm believer in alternative medicine.

  • At 12:23 AM, July 31, 2006, Anonymous Seeker said…

    Interesting, thought provoking article. Here Goes: Just My Opinion and Thoughts:First, is it really this black and white a situation? There are supposed to be medications on the market that make chemotherapy a Lot more tolerable. Is that being looked into for the 16 year old young man? Or anything else to make it more tolerable? Or spacing the chemo out more? -that is being done more frequently now as well.

    My 70 year old neighbor (and quite a few elderly people I have met have fought and won against cancer) Does the young man need a better support system to get through it? Would that help him and would he be more able to deal with it if the things I mentioned were available to him? Does he feel comfortable with his doctor or facilities? That is So important.

    Is anyone Bothering to ask him these questions-does he have Enough information, support and feel like He is part of his treatment...not just someone who has things Done To Him? Also, is it in the beginning stages or middle stages of cancer or in the very advanced stages?

    I think there is a Lot of gray area here. 16 is Very, Very young to make a call like that. People can go through a lot of hell (I'm not saying they Should, but they can) and come out the other side and Live.

    Need more information. I hope this young man gets more info and help too, if he is not getting it already. I don't think there is enough information and help available to a a lot of people who have to deal with cancer or other serious things.

    Please don't get me wrong, I have never been through chemo...I just feel that 16 (or 60) is too young to die. Quality of Life is very important, but I really need more information to the above questions before I could say-Let him choose to stop Chemo at 16.

    People of All ages need to know of Any additional help or options available to them. Things to make surving easier. Sorry so long. I had a cancer scare myself a couple of years ago...and have lost people dear to me to this hit a raw nerve with me.

  • At 4:03 PM, March 29, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The following website summarizes over 200 similar court cases involving Jehovah's Witness Parents who refused life-saving blood transfusions for their children:



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