Autistic boy, 5, dies after controversial therapy

taken from:
The Florida Times Union, August 26, 2005

After reading this article I feel you could make an argument for both sides.  The parents who thought they were doing what was best for their child to make him “normal” and the medical professional side that should have known better and made the decision to err on the side of caution.  I think this issue delves even farther into the area of religion as a controversial area.  I remember in nursing school I had a Muslim patient that passed away.  Well, thankfully, we had just studied the process of preparing a Muslim for their death and burial because there are some very strange things that must be done to preserve their “honor.” 

Jehovah’s Witness is a religion that I believe really places the medical profession in a tedious position when it comes to receiving blood products.  This is when a patient needs to make sure that all members of their family are aware of their beliefs and wishes.  My first year after graduating nursing school I worked in a PCU/ICU setting rotating into the ER.  We had a patient who, I can’t remember the underlying cause, but was bleeding out.   The patient was a Jehovah’s Witness and was adamant that he did not want blood, but his children were not of his religion or his thinking.  I felt I was in an ethical dilemma because I knew if the man received the blood transfusion he would have a very good chance of surviving but if he didn’t he would die and probably soon.  His children went so far as to attempt to have him made mentally unstable so they could retain medical power of attorney.  Although I didn’t share his beliefs, I was trying to honor them, but I was very torn.  To say the least, the man won and died about four days later.  I have since taken care of individuals with different religious or moral beliefs that didn’t want one thing or the other but it is always controversial and trying. 

Another area of controversy is stem cell research.  The treatments, possible cures and various other medical details that could be gained from this research are tremendous, but does it make it right?  There are actually women out there becoming pregnant only to abort the child for this controversial research.  Should I really care?  When I think about how I lost my dad at an early age and wonder that with the last 16 yrs of medical research would he still be here?  I also look at my five children and wonder if this controversial research will save their lives one day and maybe save countless others. 

Medical research and treatment has always been controversial in some one’s world.  Somewhere someone will always question why we are researching and the way we are researching but if it is all done with the right mindset and that is that we are attempting to better our lives or save our lives then is it really controversial?

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