The Vegetative State and Doctor-Assisted Suicide Essay

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The Vegetative State and Euthanasia

Much media attention has been directed at the very practical use of euthanasia or assisted suicide on patients who are in a vegetative state or irreversible coma. The truth is that a significant number of such cases actually recover. This essay is devoted to those types, some very young, who would have been killed if euthanasia/assisted suicide had been legalized.

Let's begin our consideration with a nine-year-old named Ryan Atencio. He was taken off life-support systems, except for a feeding tube, after being in a vegetative state following a massive head injury in a December 10, 1988 car accident. "There was no brain function," said Dr. Eustaquio Abay at St. Francis Regional
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Yolanda, Who had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 1987, suffered severe blood loss for unknown reasons and collapsed on November 30, 1990 while vacationing. She was taken to Pocono Medical Center in East Stroudsburg, PA. Contending that Yolanda had told them not to use any .. extraordinary measures" to keep her alive, doctors at the medical center did not insert either a feeding tube or a urinary catheter. When her friend, Richard Harley, protested the lack of treatment, the hospital took the case to court. A Monroe County judge ruled in favor of the hospital, saying that Yolanda should be allowed to "die with dignity." When she awoke, Yolanda was asked if she wanted to live. "Of course I do," she replied. She also insisted on "the best possible" care and a transfer to another hospital that would provide it(Woman).

In 1984, Mary Kay Blakely, national essayist and "Ms" magazine editor, lapsed into a 9-day diabetic coma. She then published a book -- Wake Me When It's Over -- about the extraordinary experience that "saved and transformed my life." Blakely described her-comatose body as like a broken transmitter: she could receive, but not send any messages. She experienced sound and touch, but could not respond. The coma altered her view of what's important -- and what's not. She now understands the critical need to slow down, and enjoy some of life's pleasures ("Author")This item may not appear to belong with this list of cases, but it points
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