There have been many programs on TV over the years that have dealt with accident victims who have fallen into a coma and have subsequently been diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state. Some of these programs have been fictional, some have been factual.
I have always been somewhat pertubed by the willingness of some to “end their suffering” as there’s “no hope of recovery.” I wonder just whose suffering is actually being referred to. I am even more perturbed when organ harvesting is being touted by the doctors.
I was surprised this morning to read about the case of a Belgian man – Ron Houben – who spent 23 years in a so-called persistent vegetative state after having been paralysed in a car crash in 1983. Apparently he was aware of everything going on around him the whole time. Can you imagine that? The frustration? The pain? Being aware and not being able to communicate?
Research has apparently shown that nearly 20% of patients thought to be in a persistent vegetative state or irreversible comas eventually awoke.
I am somewhat hesitant to pronounce a verdict on all those people responsible for switching off machines and allowing victims like Mr. Houben to die as I am not privy to individual case histories, but it makes you think doesn’t it?
Perhaps people and the doctors who advise them won’t be quite so quick to pass a death sentence now.