8 thoughts on “

  1. I thought a little about this on my drive into work today, as it was getting wide coverage on the News this morning.

    Nine year old girl, can’t walk, can’t communicate, can’t swallow, is feed through a tube. Assumed mental age is three months old.

    This in itself I found slightly horrifying. I’d assume heroic effort to keep her alive soon after birth, whilst knowing what the eventual quality of life would be.

    As for the procedures that were carried out, it wasn’t just at the whim of the parents dragging their child to a surgeon with a dumpster of cash – the whole thing was approved by a Hospital’s ethics committee.

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  2. Anyway, on to the general issue. What exactly is it about this case that makes it so much more alarming than the simple but unpleasant reality of extreme mental retardation and continuing care? I am genuinely curious. There is a sort of existential question about how we are now able to redefine the otherwise normal aspects of human life, but this is just one case, and because of its tragic context, I would have thought not as unsettling as many other cases.

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  3. First, a response to one specific comment – just like the rest of the world (more, in fact, given the nature of the job and the ethos of many of the professions involved), in hospitals the vast majority of the people try hard to be ethical and succeed most of the time. When hospitals really try hard to be ethical, such as ethics committees, I think overall they do an exceptional job considering their job requires them to make decisions that much of the world requires unthinkable. There will, of course, be failures, and some of those will be very serious indeed, but most of those will be due to flawed individuals, not endemic to the system, which is, in general, trying hard to do the right thing when faced with making choices most of us never want to have to make on a daily basis.

    I am, of course, well aware of your experiences with hospitals – but for a minute, consider my experiences with people who work in hospitals, and consider how, say, you would feel and react if someone was, say, generalising negatively about the ethics of massage therapists.

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  4. How would I feel if you bad-mouthed massage therapists? Well, I think… I feel…. I guess I wouldn’t give a bucket of rat’s asses. And I guess, being married to a hard-working nurse and all, your experience of hospitals is different to mine, coz you get to see an individual at work and hear about how hard her days have been, where the rest of us just have to try and deal with the system. And, you know, the people who kill wives and tell pregnant women to just deal with their broken pelvises coz it’ll only be a couple of months and the baby will be out and they’re the ones that got pregnant….

    But hey, if you can’t understand what’s so genuinely horrific about giving a 6 year old kid a hysterectomy and tearing out her breast glands because it’ll help Mum carry her out to the SUV next time she wants to go shopping, I’m guessing we both have blind spots.

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  5. I think that:

    (a) it’s morally very complex, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to what they have done.
    (b) either way, it’s absolutely horrific and dreadful, and I feel for everyone in that family.
    (c) Dr K is a doctor, not a nurse.

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  6. Dave, part of the horror of this is that this was considered ethical, or at least, more ethical than allowing the victim what little natural growth she had the potential for.

    A rational person doesn’t hold every individual in a system accountable for the actions of other individuals in the system, but a system that would find this particular action permissable has to be treated with suspicion.

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  7. Yeah, I saw this on the news a couple of days ago. Pretty freaky stuff. I can’t decide whether it’s a selfish thing to have done on the parents part, or a genuinely carin’ thing…

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