sacred life

my daughter's "roommate" is a young girl who we thought to be about 2 years old that has a tracheotomy and is currently on a ventilator, unable to move or speak or do anything but lay and have her mom and the medical staff care for her. i have since found out she is actually 9 years old and has been cared for in this matter since she was a year old.

the mother told me her daughter in non-communicative, save for eye movements. she cannot move her tiny limbs, cannot vocalize, cannot move even her head. her mother says she simply communicates through her eyes. she further stated she had been in the hospital since early May with pneumonia and two weeks ago, went into cardiac arrest. she told me her physicians, on a daily basis, speak to her about implementing a DNR ("Do Not Resusitate") order, discussing with her quality of life vs. quantity. and every discussion is ended by mom saying, "when the time comes, you won't be able to save her. as long as she keeps fighting, so will i. no DNR."

i have to say i admire her tenacity as a mother. even though her daughter lives in a home away from the mother because of the amount of care she requires, she hasn't worked in over a month and has lived at the hospital since early may and assured me she would be "no where else."

this conversation led me to think about schools of thought, and while i may not be able to monitor any comments due to not being available more than twice a day, i proffer this for discussion:

1. life is sacred from birth to natural death. this woman is honoring that commitment to keeping her daughter alive at any cost;

2. is this really birth to "natural death" if she is being kept alive through extraordinary measures? she is a fragile little thing, having had a hart attack and several bouts of pneumonia, has brittle bone disease and has suffered potentially a broken foot at the hands of a very gentle physical therapist yesterday. medical intervention is NECESSARY for her to stay alive.

3. quality of life - is an issue. for all intents and purposes, she's confined to a bed, has no control whatever over her body, is fed through a tube, currently has a machine breathing for her. does our opinion on the quality of this young girl's life matter? does the medical society have the right to place that determination on anyone? or is the parent the sole voice for this voiceless child?

this mom amazes me - she talks with her, loves on her, comforts her, teases and is playful with her. she surrounds her with fluffy blankets and sweet stuffed animals, and while she admitted her daughter can't run and skip and play and laugh, that is not to say she doesnt communicate her love for her mother through her eyes, and that, to her, is worthy of a DNR.

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