Written by: Isaiah Smart
Americans have recently been enveloped in fierce debate over a matter of life and death−forced life, that is.
When, if ever, is pulling the plug on life support the right thing to do?
In November, Marlise Muñoz, a Texan resident expecting a baby, was deemed brain dead after her husband Erick found her unconscious due to a blood clot. She was put on a ventilator that kept her heart and lungs working.
By Texas law, the Texas Advance Directives Act, “A person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this subchapter from a pregnant patient.”
However, Marlise Muñoz previously requested to not remain on any “life-sustaining treatment.” Both the Muñozes were paramedics and knew the strain that life support could place on families.
The family recently won a case against Texas to have the plug pulled on Marlise’s life support, which subsequently led to her death. Her family has since been working to move on from this tragic ordeal.
Marlise’s baby was delivered by C-section while Marlise was brain dead and on life support. Her son is currently 15 months old.
In another case, 13-year-old Jahi McMath of Oakland, Calif., underwent a surgery in December that removed her tonsils, adenoids and extra sinus tissue, which was said to cause sleep apnea. Complications occurred that would lead doctors to declare McMath brain dead.
The Children’s Hospital of Oakland issued a statement saying they do not “believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice.”
On the other hand, McCath’s mother, Naliah Winkfield, was not convinced that her daughter was dead.
“I would probably need for my child’s heart to stop to show me that she was dead,” Winkfield said.
The family took the case to court to prove McMath showed signs of life, a fight that the family eventually won. Jahi was recently moved to an undisclosed location for further treatment.
The issue of life support is a high-energy, ethical discussion that has its highs and lows. I feel that life support is something that should be temporary but needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
If the family can bear the emotional and financial strain, the decision should be up to them and not the medical facility or the law. However, I wouldn’t put any family through such an ordeal for an extended time unless the relatives desired to continue the life support.
The cases of Marlise and Jahi exhibit the different paths families take when a relative is put on life support. Muñoz knew from her profession that life support was something she did not want to participate in. McCath’s family felt that their daughter should remain on life support and receive treatment.
Each decision was different from the other yet both were equally sincere.
What are your thoughts on this matter? Share them with us on Twitter (@vsuspectator).