Thursday, October 21, 2010

'I was Dead, But I'm Better Now'

There's a bit of dialog from a drama that goes something like this:

"I thought you were dead."

"I was, but I'm better now."

That's fiction. This is fact - or news, at any rate.

In France, a woman died - officially. Doctors said so.

Her sons, mere laymen, wouldn't let the doctors unplug the woman's life support system.

An example of ignorance and sentiment overruling the superior minds of Science and Medicine?


It's a good thing for the woman that her sons kept her plugged in, though. She woke up later.

Here's the story:
"'Clinically Dead' Woman Alive and Well"
Human News, Discovery News (October 20, 2010)

"A woman pronounced 'very certainly clinically dead' at a French hospital woke up hours later after her sons refused to turn off her life-support system, medics and the woman said.

"Doctors were preparing cancer patient Lydie Paillard, 60, for a chemotherapy session when she passed out, the director of the Bordeaux Rive Droite private hospital Yves Noel told AFP on Wednesday.

"A doctor managed to resuscitate her and put her on a ventilator but then, having consulted other doctors, called Paillard's sons to break the news that their mother was 'very certainly clinically dead.'

"But her sons would not turn off the respirator and she was then transferred to the university hospital of the southwestern French city where a scan revealed that she was in fact not brain dead, Noel said...."

Not to be morbid, or macabre: but this is one reason why I haven't checked off that 'organ donor' option on my driver's license. My wife knows that I'm quite willing to have parts harvested: but I don't want to wake up on a dissecting table after some hotshot medico decided I was dead.

The Lemming can understand how the medical types made that little mistake. The woman's 60 - and old folks die all the time, right? Besides, an unconscious person doesn't look all that different from a dead person: particularly if breathing is on the shallow side.

The Discovery News article doesn't give enough detail to suggest just why doctors were so eager to write Paillard off.

More, about medical ethics (it shouldn't be an oxymoron), organ transplant, research, and my take on the subjects, is in another blog. I'll admit to a bias: I think life is precious, even if a person isn't young, good-looking, and in perfect health.

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