Is a Persistant Vegitative State really persistant?

by Sal on January 19, 2006

in Politics

Yesterday we posted an update of the story of Haleigh Poutre , and the Massachusetts SJC decision to allow DSS to remove her ventilator. A day after that Decision, doctors report that she has improved and no longer requires a ventilator.

One telling quote from the story is “”The vegetative state may not be a total vegetative state.”

Contrast that with the diagnosis last fall, which led the SJC to make its ruling:

Last fall, doctors described Haleigh as being in a persistent vegetative state and ”virtually brain dead,” district court records said. Physicians said her brain stem was severely injured, leaving her unable to think or feel and in an ”irreversible coma,” according to an opinion Tuesday by the Supreme Judicial Court.

This is disturbing. The idea of a persistant vegitative state has always seemed dubious to me. Why are we making the decision to end a life based on something which is uncertain? Another quote from the article:

Many neurologists say it is rare for a patient with severe brain-stem injuries to fully recover from a persistent vegetative state that lasts for more than a month. Sometimes, patients can partially recover, such as showing increasing responsiveness to touch by frowning or moving their hand, said Dr. Steve Williams, chief of rehabilitation medicine at Boston Medical Center.

But rarely do these patients fully recover so they can communicate, feed themselves, and live ordinary lives, he said. He added, however, that the recoveries, when they happen, are more likely with children than adults. ”There’s more plasticity to their brain,” he said. ”There’s potentially other areas of the brain that can take over.”
Allison Avrett, Haleigh’s biological mother, said yesterday that she saw improvements in a hospital visit last week, but was convinced by doctors and DSS workers that hand movements that she had seen were involuntary.

This is insanity! Most people think of a persistant vegitative state as being irreversable! While it is “rare” to make a full recovery, apparently people do! I believe that the brain is an area of the human body that we still do not really understand to a great degree. Much more care should be taken with patients, and they should be treated as human beings, not as vegetables to be disposed of.

Haleigh may not ever fully recover. But then again, she might. The doctor’s prognosis that she would never breath again and was essentially brain-dead was apparently incorrect. If it were up to DSS and the courts, we would never know if she made a full recovery. If it were up to DSS and the Courts, this beautiful child would be dead right now.

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Haleigh Poutre, Miracle Child, and the Sanctity of Life | Axis of Right
November 29, 2008 at 12:26 am

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Trisha Schumann January 21, 2007 at 8:47 pm

I feel that people in a vegetative state should be given every right in the world to survive. If they have a living will stating that they do not desire to be kept alive if ever in a vegetative state, then that’s different, they made that decision before hand. Right now my boyfriend is PVS. He is 27. He has been abused all his life, until he met me. Someone who treated his fair and not as a chance to take advantage. I love him and he loves me. I want to give him every chance in the world to recover, reguardless of what the doctors say. We need to remember, doctors are not God, they cannot say what outcomes are going to be, they can hypothesize, but they really do not know for sure, no one does. Only time will tell, every person is different, if you love the person enough, they should be given a fair judgement. Should this continue, or should i let them go. Is this for me or for them. I know my boyfriend is strong, if God will give him a second chance at life, it will be the greatest gift in the world to both him and I, if not, he will be in a better place, but until then, I keep praying he will recover.


Mike January 23, 2007 at 1:16 am

I’m sorry to hear about your boyfriend Trisha. He is lucky to have someone as loving and caring as you. You are both in my prayers.


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