Month: March 2008

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.

Brain death is not death

Doctors treat brain dead persons as dead even though other organs are functioning. The organs are removed and given to other persons. There are cases where heart transplantation had taken place and receivers had undergone change in behaviour and had memories of dead persons whose hearts they had received.

A news report by dt. 27/3/2008 by Catholic News Agency mentions the case of Zack Dunlap, A young man who was injured in an woke from his coma and showed signs of life just minutes before he was to be disconnected from life support. Doctors had determined he met the legal and medical requirements for declaring someone brain-dead and a medical team prepared to harvest Dunlap’s organs for donation.

A nurse, Dan Coffin, thought the monitor recording Dunlap’s vital signs showed signs of improvement. On a hunch he pulled out his pocketknife and scraped Dunlap’s foot from his heel to his toes.

Dunlap jerked his foot, but the attending hospital nurse believed it was only a reflex. Dan Coffin then stuck his fingernail beneath Dunlap’s fingernail, which provoked a purposeful movement, a sign of brain activity.

Doctors immediately resumed medical treatment. Dunlap opened his eyes after five days, and was taken off a ventilator two days later.

Forty-eight days after being declared dead, Dunlap returned home, where Dan Coffin presented him with the pocketknife that proved he was still alive.

Dunlap said he did not remember the accident, but he does remember the doctor declaring him dead. “I heard it and it just made me mad inside,” he said.

The theory that brain is the seat of the person and a brain dead person is dead even though he breathes needs to be discarded. We do not know how many lives have been lost due to this theory. Any persons who breathes, whose heart beats, whose pulse beats, shall not be declared dead. However extraordinary measures to prolong life need not be taken.

Doctors may be experts but experts can go wrong. I remember a joke. Once people were getting ready to bury a person. They were about to place the lid on his coffin. He opened his eyes and said, “I am not dead. Don’t bury me.” The people were stunned. Then they said, “The priest and the doctor have declared you dead. They are experts. Experts cannot be wrong.” They placed the lid on his coffin and lowered it in the grave.

India and fall in hockey

India’s failure to qualify for hockey in Olympics 2008 was neither shocking nor shameful. Britain had beaten India in a league match 3-2 and beat India in the final 2-0. The chances of India winning the final match were 50-50 and India lost. The writing on the wall was there for a long time, particularly after India’s performance at Doha Asian Games 2006 but many did not want to read it. India had finished 11 out of 12 teams at Athens Olympics 2008.

Indian Hockey Federation must be held accountable. KPS Gill must be the first to go. A drunkard convicted of bottom slapping should never have been made President of Indian Hockey Federation. He ruined Indian hockey. Players performing well were dropped. After India won 1998 Asian Games six players were dropped. After that many players who did well were dropped. If Gill continues at the helm India will be out of Asian Games also.

India’s coach Joaquim Carvalho has blamed umpires and tournament director for India’s loss and has said there was a conspiracy by FIH and Britain to keep India out. Umpires and tournament director were partial. That was safe for Joaquim Carvalho to say. He has not said anything about India’s failure in converting penalty corners into goals.

Government of India must assert its power and see that KPS Gill goes. Autonomy of Indian Hockey Federation is meaningless if the fall continues. Indian Hockey Federation is financed by tax payers’ money. Sponsors pay part of the expenses.

It is not proper to call hockey India’s national game. National game has to be played by the largest number of people. In India cricket is played more than hockey. Football World Cup matches have larger viewership than Hockey World Cup matches. It could have been India’s national game when India won gold medals in Olympics.