Sunday, February 23, 2003

Okay. I love Duke University, but they have really screwed up this time.

For those of you who have been sequestered from the news for the past week or so, I am referring to the handling of Jesica, the Mexican teenager whom was given organs which were from a donor with a different blood type than she. Her body rejected the organs, and although Jesica was given new organs in an amazing and practically unheard of second transplant, she was declared brain dead and taken off of life support yesterday, and died shortly afterward.

A story has been disclosed that Jesica's family asked Duke University to continue life support until a second opinion could be rendered. However, yesterday, Duke physicians declared the child brain-dead and took it upon themselves to remove life support. The family was brought in to say goodbye.

Last time I checked, going against the wishes of the family is a HUGE no-no when it comes to withdrawing life support. I believe that some people are kept needlessly on life support. I believe in death with dignity. But when I worked as an oncology nurse, I learned that I couldn't control nor sway patient's families from their decisions that were based on values and moral beliefs. The patient's family gives final consent for withdrawing of life support. Always always always. If there is any dissention among family members, you keep the patient on life support until it's resolved. I feel that if this story is accurate, that Duke is guilty of not only a legal stafu, it is in violation of medical ethics and the hypocratic oath. You simply can't play God, no matter how high profile the case.

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