Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Baby Born to Brain-Dead Virginia Woman Dies

I love technology, I really do. I install new software, re-install operating systems, and upgrade the things all the time it seems (probably more than I really should). I really love it. However, especially when dealing with medicine and nuclear weapons technology, I realize one thing: Just because we CAN do something, doe not necessarily mean we SHOULD.

Here's the scenario - this woman in Virginia was diagnosed with malignant melanoma with metastases to the brain. As if this wasn't bad enough, her metastases caused her to have a stroke and become essentially brain dead. I'm thinking, "Oh no. Not another Terry Shiavo case!!" as I tear my hair out. Of course, she's pregnant and of course her family decides to keep her alive, not because they believe she will recover, but because they want to use her body to carry the baby until it can be delivered.

It was at this point that I got pissed.

First of all, the lady is dead. Let her die in peace. Just because she is pregnant, it doesn't give you the right to use her body as an incubator to hatch your eggs, only to be tossed aside after you get what you want.

Does noone see anything wrong with this? A woman is 15 weeks pregnant, 25 (!!!!) weeks pre-term, when she has a stroke, and we keep her "alive" for 3 months, at which time the baby is 27 weeks along - still very very very very preterm. So, at what point did we think this was a good idea? The mother is dead, the baby has about a 50% chance of dying, and still we provide millions of dollars of medical care to make this happen. Jesus Christ. What a waste of precious resources!

From the wording of the story, it sounds as though the kid got NEC - necrotizing enterocolitis, a condition common in extremely premature infants/fetuses. This is a condition where the childs' intestines begin to rot away in situ. It is very frequently fatal, regardless of treatment - but it can be treated with emergent surgery.

Anyway, the kiddo dies today, and I'm left to wonder; even after millions of dollars worth of care given to the mother, then another million spent on the kids' care, has the universe righted itself and taken back into itself what we tried to keep for ourselves?

I'm also left to wonder who is going to pick up the tab? I never agreed to keep this woman alive - I shouldn't have to pay for it.
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