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Monday, October 25, 2010

Palliative Care or Monstrous Barbarism?

I've written before about the new approach to palliative care. It used to mean keeping a patient comfortable and providing them all they needed to end their life naturally without suffering. But today, palliative care is just as likely, perhaps even more likely, to mean starving and dehydrating someone to death while drugging them so the "caregiver" can pretend the victim isn't suffering. But now the Josef Mengeles working in some hospices want to take the step a little further. They want to study their victims while they kill them.

Writing at his blog on the First Things website, Wesley Smith tells us, It Takes a Long Time to Starve a Severely Disabled Infant to Death by Withdrawing Medically-Supplied Nutrition. Reporting on material presented at the 18th International Congress on Palliative Care he shared the participants' findings on removing "artificial" nutrition and hydration (presumably tube feeding) from sick infants. Hal Siden, MD, from Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Vancouver, British Columbia presented a case series showing that some infants can live much longer than expected - almost a month after food and hydration are removed:

“These babies live much, much longer than anybody expects. I think that neonatologists and nurses and palliative care clinicians need to be alerted to this....The time between withdrawal of feeding and end of life is something that is not predictable, and you need to be cautioned very strongly about that if you are going to do this work."...
Autopsies are often encouraged in such neonatal palliative care cases to help both parents and medical staff gain a better understanding of the reasons for the death, said Dr. Siden. Parents should be warned that the report will document the technical cause of death as “starvation” — a loaded word for all concerned. It is important that parents separate this word from any notion of suffering, he said.
Of course it's necessary to "separate" the word starvation from any notion of suffering - because then the monstrousness of what is being done is obvious. It's exactly what happened in the starvation killings of brain-impaired adults, Hugh Finn and Terry Schiavo. The killers assured everyone that starvation isn't painful but gives a feeling of "euphoria." The ones saying this, of course, always have the appearance of being very well fed.

Smith goes on to quote another participant at the conference describing what she said was a distressing fact about starving children that could not be cured with medicine:
“The longer a child lives, the more emaciated he or she becomes. This is something that we as clinicians need to anticipate. You can alleviate some of the physical symptoms, but this is one symptom, or result of our action, that we can’t relieve. A critical factor for counseling is to anticipate the kind of suffering that comes with witnessing the emaciation. It isn’t something people can prepare themselves for.”
Note the concern for WHO is suffering - not the victims, of course, but those "witnessing the emaciation" they inflict on the baby. This is the same attitude one hears at abortion conventions when they wring their hands over the pain inflicted on poor abortionists who have to feel the tearing and wrenching as they rip little bodies apart and the nursing staff who have to put the body back together to make sure everything has been removed. It gives them bad dreams, poor darlings. (Is your hankie soaked yet?)

Sidon's proposal that they need to do more research on the tiny vicitms of their "palliative care" sickens one. He says:
“There’s a technical aspect to what we do, and we need to become really good at that because we need to be able to say to people, without a doubt, that we are going to do this and there is not going to be any kind of suffering. You’ve got to be very on top of your game.”
"Game" is exactly the right word. Killing the helpless is the "game" the strong play against the weak. We've seen its gruesome reality before. Frederic Wertham described it in A Sign for Cain, a study of violence which, among other atrocities, examined the WW II German euthanasia program. In the chapter, A Geranium in the Window, he described the murder of mental patients and other undesirables including hundreds of children, some of whom were murdered for being bed wetters or having deformed ears. Like the babies killed by Dr. Sidon, these children were often starved to death to death as well. Wertham writes:
A further method of "child euthanasia" was deliberately and literally starving children to death in the "children's divisions." This happened to very many children. ...As early as autumn 1939, a student of psychology, later a public-school teacher, Ludwig Lehner, was permitted with other visitors to go through the state hospital Eglfing-Haar....In the cheldren's ward were some twenty-five half-starved children ranging in age from one to five years. The director of the insitution, Dr. Pfannmueller, explained the routine. "We don't do it," he said, with poisons or injections. "Our method is much simpler and more natural." With these words, the fat and smiling doctor lifted an emaciated, whimpering child from his little bed, holding him up like a dead rabbit. He went on to explain that food is not withdrawn all at once, but the rations are gradually decreased. "With this child," he added, "it will take another two or three days."....
In Eglfing-Haar...there was a children's division with a capacity of about 150 children called the Kinderhaus. This division had a special department" with twenty-five beds and cribs for the children about to be exterminated. In June, 1945, it was still occupied by twenty children. They were saved by the American Army. In the children's "special department" there was a small room. It was bare except for small white-tiled table. At the window was a geranium plant which was always carefully watered. Four or five times a month a psychiatrist and a nurse took a child
to this little room. A little while later they came out, alone.
Reading the matter of fact accounts of doctors murdering children in Nazi Germany side by side with the murders of today puts them in perspective. Nothing has changed. The "mercy-killers" still cloak their evil in compassion as part of their "game." Welcome to palliative care in the 21st century.

Obviously, not all caring for the sick and suffering are monsters. We all know compassionate caregivers who respect their patients and would never harm them. I visit a nursing home every Sunday that is filled with compassionate staff. But there is something particularly chilling about a convention on palliative care welcoming someone like Dr. Sidon as he calmly describes how he kills children by starvation much like Dr. Pfannmueller in Nazi Germany. Presumably, the professionals attending these events are the policy and standard developers. When barbarians are honored and respected in such a venue, more will join their ranks. And once the "mercy" killers are running the health care establishments, who among us will be safe?


Anonymous said...

What horrors Satan has in mind for us.

George Pal said...

The clinicians suffer the sight of their victims; the victims’ starvation is “euphoric”. I propose ... well, I am restrained by a well-placed Comment Policy from proposing what I had in mind.

What is there to do but make the same request Diogenes made - “Bury me on my head for very soon this world will be turned upside down”.


Les said...

My father died yesterday .. after 3days in hospital of "palliative care" - no food & no liquids despite my pleas ..

I was told he was non responsive - YET - He mouthed I love you, thank you and tried to smile and raise eyebrows.

This is barbaric .. the medical team told me this is standard practice.

What kind of a world is this ?

Shame on the medical profession ... how do you sleep at night.

Anonymous said...

Since "comment moderation and approval" is enabled I hope that you will allow this comment to be published.

As a Christian, and Oncology nurse that tends to end-of-life patients, I find this article to be based on fear rather than fact.

Palliative care IS: Palliative and supportive treatment for patients who are suffering from a terminal illness or who have refused life-sustaining treatment

Palliative care is NOT: Withdrawing care such tube feedings from a brain dead patient

In my professional experience most palliative/comfort care patients do not have the desire to eat. This is one of the physical signs that signal end-of-life. In fact, this is a time when the person will eat or drink very little, if at all. At this stage, food or water will not help your loved one’s suffering, and it will not keep them alive longer. In fact, when the body’s system slows down, food and water may not be processed properly.

You may consider the use of an intravenous (a needle in a vein) to give the person some fluids. The solutions used in the intravenous are usually just salt or sugar and water, and they do not give the person any nutrition. The intravenous does not give the patient comfort and may actually have the opposite effect, increasing or prolonging their suffering.

No doctor will order your loved one not to eat. That is the false idea conveyed in this article. Palliative care patients can eat ANYTHING they want, but usually don’t eat anything as the end nears.

No one should die being poked and prodded with needles and filled with pills and medication up to the second before they die. Advances in medicine will not stop us from the inevitable fact that we are going to die. Why not live our last days or weeks in comfort?

What dying patients want:
Pain and symptom control
Relief of worry, anxiety, depression
Avoidance of inappropriate prolongation of the dying process
A sense of control
Relief of burdens on family
Strengthening of relationships with loved ones

The author goes on to say medical providers, “drug (patients) so the caregiver can pretend the victim isn’t suffering”.

Fact: Morphine is often given for pain, but also as just before death, the person’s breathing will slow down, and it may seem like they are gasping. The morphine helps with these “air hunger” symptoms giving comfort to the palliative care patient.

Shame on the author for taking away the hope that is attached to the term “palliative care” and demonizing it. Comparing medical providers to Nazis; Disgraceful and tasteless!

If you want to be upset about withdrawal of care then do so without calling it palliative care. As it is not even remotely the same!

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I appreciate your comments and I'm sure their are many medical care givers who still use "palliative care" in the way you do. I was primary care giver for my mom as she was dying and personally experienced with her some of what you describe. She ate and drank at least minimally until the last two days before she died.

However, there is a growing body of medical professionals who are totally in favor of hastening death - in some cases where patients are not terminal and are not dying. I was involved the Hugh Finn and Terri Schiavo cases and they were murdered by dehydration. Neither was "terminal;" they were brain-damaged. As such they were "useless eaters" and their spouses, against the wishes of parents and other family members, were permitted to kill them. That's simply a fact. And I know from friends who experienced similar situations that this is happening very quietly with the complicity of medical staff.

So, while I recognize that there are still compassionate and sincerely committed medical staff who do not try to hasten death, the reality is that there are others whose compassion includes killing. The killing is passive now through neglect, but how long will that continue when the boomers (I'm one of them) overwhelm the medical system.

Something to think about.