Marlowe's Shade

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Welby's Doctor Defies Judge, Turns Off Respirator

From Yahoo

An Italian doctor said on Thursday he had switched off the life support system of a terminally ill man who died after losing a legal battle to have his respirator disconnected, but the doctor denied it was illegal euthanasia.
Piergiorgio Welby, who would have turned 61 next week, had advanced muscular dystrophy, leaving him bedridden but lucid. His pleas to be allowed to die sparked an impassioned debate over the right to die which split predominantly Catholic Italy.
"Welby's case is not one of euthanasia. It is about refusing treatment," anesthetist Mario Riccio told a news conference.
Riccio said he gave Welby an intravenous cocktail of sedatives, then removed his respirator. The 47-year-old doctor said he believed he had not broken the law but that he was willing to answer magistrate's questions about Welby's death.
Euthanasia is banned in predominantly Catholic Italy and the
Vatican opposes euthanasia. Only Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and the U.S. state of Oregon permit assisted suicide for the terminally ill.
Doctors who perform euthanasia can face up to 15 years in prison. But doctors and politicians supporting Welby said the Italian constitution gives patients the right to refuse medical treatment, and they had volunteered to remove his respirator.

I still don't consider turning off the respirator euthanasia.

I am however extremely suspicious of the "cocktail of sedatives". It sounds like terminal sedation.
papijoe 9:35 AM |

Monday, December 18, 2006

Is Dr Welby's Case in Italy Really About Euthanasia?

From Daily Telegraph

AN Italian court has overnight rejected a request by a paralysed, terminally ill man who wants doctors to take him off life support in a case that has split the predominantly Catholic country, where euthanasia is illegal.Italian court rejects euthanasia appeal
The pale, listless face of Piergiorgio Welby, 60, who suffers from advanced muscular dystrophy and is confined to bed but is lucid, has become one of the most recognised in Italy.
Speaking via a computer that interprets his eye movements, Mr Welby has appeared on news programmes and written to Italy's president asking to be taken off the respirator that keeps him alive so he can "find peace for my tortured and shattered body".
But in a 15-page verdict underscoring the legal complexity of the case, a Rome judge said that while Mr Welby had a right to have the respirator removed, that right was not "concretely safeguarded" by Italian law.

In general I don't consider shutting off a respirator euthanasia. The problem here is that the right-to-die supporters of Dr Welby intend to use this case to apply to other situations where life sustaining treatment can be legally removed. This law currently seems unfair. However Terri Schiavo never would have died at her husband's hand had she been in Italy.

My solution would be to configure the computer technology that allows Dr Welby to communicate to give him control of the power switch for his own respirator. Had nature been allowed to take its course he would have died long ago. I can't see this as suicide.


papijoe 11:09 AM |