This Month's Feature




HER DOCTOR AVOIDED THE WORD “STARVATION”

By Rosie G.
July 2020

This case exposes why every person should be extremely careful about the wording of their healthcare advance directive and choosing the person they want to make medical decisions for them in a critical situation. For information about advance directives, read "The Best Advance Directive" in Making a Difference.

My mother-in-law Helen, over a period of years, had a series of mini strokes without any permanent mental or physical damage. Then, about 10 years ago, she suffered a massive stroke which left her with limited abilities of speech and mobility and other disabilities. Her loving husband was by her side and her eight living children were called home to spend time with her.

Helen had a Living Will expressing she would not want extraordinary treatment if she were ever in this type of condition. Due to difficulty swallowing, it was apparent that she could not continue to safely eat in the ordinary manner. Her doctor said that, to receive nourishment, she would need a feeding tube. He negatively presented the information regarding inserting and living with a feeding tube, as though it were extraordinary means, an inconvenience for all involved, and probably not the way she would want to live. Without a feeding tube, he said she would slowly and peacefully lose consciousness over the next few days and would have a painless death. He did not use the word “starvation.”

Helen was unable to express herself. However, when praying the rosary at her bedside, she quietly joined in with us on the Hail Mary prayers. Her loving husband felt torn because he did not want to deprive her of nourishment, but if he allowed them to put in the feeding tube, he feared he would be going against his wife’s previous wishes. Most of her children helped him decide, convincing him that she would not want to live under these limited conditions. My husband tried to explain that a feeding tube was not extraordinary means; that it would be inhumane to allow their mother to starve to death, but to no avail. He then called in the local Catholic priest who explained to the family that not providing her with a means of nourishment would go against what the Church teaches about the dignity of life. He added that nourishment, even by feeding tube, was not extraordinary means, but in fact humane and necessary. My father-in-law, a practicing Catholic who respected the priest’s input, then allowed the procedure to insert the feeding tube, even though most family members were not convinced this was the right thing to do. During this time, my mother-in-law also developed pneumonia, but was not being treated for it because the medical team interpreted her Living Will to mean that life-preserving treatment was not allowed.

With little change in her condition, Helen was eventually transferred to a nursing home. After a period of weeks there, my husband was notified by his stepfather (Helen’s husband) that the decision was made to remove the feeding tube. Shortly thereafter, she passed away.

HALO note: For more information about medical decisions concerning nutrition and hydration, as well as other kinds of medical treatment and care,
read 
Life-Affirming Principles for Medical Decision-Making.

AT 39, I HAD A MASSIVE STROKE.
THE DOCTORS TOLD MY FAMILY I WOULD DIE.

July 2020
HALO's Mission Statement is based on age-old Judeo-Christian principles, in particular on the commandments "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" and "You shall not murder." We welcome members and partners of all faiths and no faith who agree with our Mission Statement and who desire to promote, protect, and advocate for the rights of the medically vulnerable.

Margaret Beck, a Catholic, testifies to God's power and love as she tells her personal story of physical and spiritual recovery.
At 39, I had a massive stroke. The doctors told my family I would die, or if by some miracle survived, I would be a vegetable. (How can a human being ever be a vegetable?). My family all prayed diligently and one night, as my mom prayed at my bedside, she received a sign from the Lord that I would be alright. After 3 1/2 weeks in a medically induced coma, I woke up and began a long road to recovery. God hears all our prayers.
A few months later, one day in prayer, I had a good talk with God. I told Him how proud I was of all I had accomplished, especially in His service. His response is ingrained in my heart; "Without me, you can do nothing." Then He filled me with His love and grace, leading me back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation after 17 years, and revealing His great mercy.
He helped me fall in love with Him in the Holy Eucharist, leading me to pro-life activism and weekly Eucharistic adoration. Then He did the same beautiful transformation with our oldest daughter, diagnosed with a rare cancer. He transformed her heart in the 3 years until her death. She became a witness by her great faith, strength and trust.
Margaret Beck

COVID-19 PATIENT WITH DISABILITY
STARVED BY TEXAS DOCTOR

July 2020

The following report from Texas Right to Life is a chilling example of the dehumanization of vulnerable patients that is happening right under our noses. This story will open your eyes to the threats to life that have taken root in our healthcare system. Please share this with everyone you know. We must reteach people how to respect and defend human life, and make it personal. Whatever hurts my brother or sister, my fellow human being, hurts me.

Read: Quadriplegic COVID-19 Patient Starved by Texas Doctor because of his Disability

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