Thursday, May 19, 2011

Update

Here's an update regarding the man with the gunshot wound:

"My man with the gunshot wound passed away last night, but not uneventfully. Yesterday the family agreed to terminally extubate him. The family felt that he would not want to live with such a huge neurological handicap and they wanted to let him pass. I don't want to give you the wrong idea, its not as if this man is awake and interactive. He intermittently follows commands, but he certainly can't follow a conversation. His level of conciousness comes and goes, but mostly goes. He was extubated around 6pm. Gift of Life was called, and I learned some scary things about organ donation. I have always been extremely uncomfortable with organ donation. I have tried researching the Church's stance on it, but ended up confused and still not knowing the answer. It just seems like one of those cases where the ends don't justify the means. You may save a life, but you are taking the life of someone else, although they are "dying anyway." And organ transplants fail. Its not even a secure treatment. The plan was to do something called "donation after cardiac death." Typically organ donations come from "brain dead" people with a heartbeat. This man was not brain dead and probably never would be. The alternative is to extubate the person, give them HUGE doses of morphine, versed, and fentanyl, and hope their heart stops. Once they get to the operating room the law states if they do not die within 1 hour of receiving all the medicine you have to abort the procedure and you may not take the organs. Well... he didn't die! I was praying for this guy like crazy. I really didn't want them to take his organs. I walked by the operating room, peaked in the window, and was very excited to see his heart rate at 106!

Anyway, afterwards he was taken up to the ICU again. I asked the family's permission to call a priest so he could have last rights. I called the chaplain who said he "may" have already received last rights, but he would call the priest. I went and found a computer and googled every prayer for the dying I could find. He passed away an hour later. I do not know if he received last rites or not. The priest may not have arrived in time. I think I would have broken privacy laws if I contacted the priest on my own without the family's permission. Unfortunately I literally had to wait till the last hour before calling. I am amazed he lived through the the gunshot, he lived through the brain injury, he lived through the huge amount of medicine they gave him to facilitate death for an organ harvest, and died in his room with his family. I hope one day I find out what happened to his soul.
"

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing that! That is quite the story! We will continue to pray for this man's soul! That is very interesting about the high doses of meds to "make his heart stop"- aka kill him! I never knew that! Yikes!

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  2. Chrissy... its a fine line. You can give enough meds to "facilitate" death, but not enough to "cause" death. There are no real guidelines for how much medicine you are allowed to give... if you give a gross overdose a Dr. certainly could get in trouble, but they certainly push the limit when it comes to dosing. This guy lived 1 hour and 40 minutes after the infusion. He missed the cutoff for donation by 40 minutes. I'm pretty confident they would have re-dosed him if there wasn't the risk of getting in trouble.

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