What’s Wrong with the World

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Pastor Joshua has passed away

I just found out the end of this story and am posting it here solely as a news item for those interested, which is why I have turned off comments.

Joshua, the Sri Lankan pastor I discussed here, passed away on September 6, but thanks to the work of Alex Schadenberg and the Canadian Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, he was allowed to receive food and fluids by mouth for some days before his death, so he did not die entirely without that help and comfort from his devoted friends. The timeline seems to be this: He went eleven days, until August 28, without food or fluids of any kind. Having survived that ordeal, he was finally allowed in a "deal" with the doctors and his SDM to be fed by mouth by a nurse who was also a friend. For some days (I don't know how many) she was able to do this, until he became genuinely unable to eat by mouth. He then passed away on September 6; of course, no feeding tube was permitted.

It is a crying scandal that a patient who was capable of receiving oral nutrition and hydration should have gone through eleven days with nothing. There is nothing remotely "natural" about this. I have spoken repeatedly, in blog comments and in posts, about the danger that doctors refuse to allow even mouth feeding to patients able to receive it.

It seems quite plausible that Joshua's eleven days of total dehydration contributed to his eventual death. Anyone would be greatly weakened and many would already have been dead by that time. And of course there was no reason why he could not have been given a feeding tube after he could not take food and fluids by mouth anymore.

Nevertheless, we should be thankful both to God and to those who worked so hard for Pastor Joshua that he was able to receive some food and fluids during his last days and that his friends did not have to watch him die without being allowed to help at all.

I strongly urge all of you who see the danger of this to write a living will that makes it absolutely clear that you want to receive nutrition and hydration, by tube if necessary. I would even go so far as to urge that you not include an exception "if your death is imminent," as I have heard of one case in which a woman who had filled out a supposedly protective living will drafted by a right-to-life group was dehydrated to death over the standard period of time because that phrase was interpreted, perversely, to mean "if my death is imminent if I don't receive nutrition and hydration." I also suggest that you appoint someone with durable power of attorney for health care who fully shares your commitment to not dehydrating people to death and who will be your advocate should the need arise.