Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Measures to save life

Karen Ann Quinlan

Karen Ann Quinlan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Measures to save life can be ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary measures are to be taken to save life. Extraordinary measures need not be taken.

Extraordinary measures can be medical or financial. Medical measures are medicines, surgeries or procedures whose outcome is not sure. Financial measures become extraordinary when it is beyond the capacity of persons to pay for medical expenses.

Blood transfusion is an ordinary measure. However diseases of donor can be transmitted to receiver of blood. Jehovah’s Witnesses are opposed to blood transfusion.

Keeping on a life support system for a long time is an extraordinary measure. If a person can breathe without life support system his/her life should not be terminated even if there is brain death.

On April 15, 1975, Karen Ann Quinlan, 17 years old, became comatose. Her brain had stopped functioning. She was put on respirator and fed through tube. Keeping on respirator was considered extraordinary measure and feeding through tube ordinary measure. Some months later her respirator was removed but she continued to breathe and feeding through tube continued and she died in December 1985. Harvesting of Karen’s organs after removing the respirator would have been killing her.

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