Life as an Extreme Sport

[The Daily 08-09-2006] The Road Continues

Kelly Hills 2006-08-09 It’s a hot afternoon in Washington, D.C. and a young boy buys a pickle from an ice cream and hot dog vendor, expecting cool relief from the sweet vegetable. Instead, a flood of PCP and ecstasy floods his system, causing him to go into convulsions. By the time EMTs arrive, the boy has stopped respiration. While they are able to restore his breathing, and the hospital stabilizes him further, he does not wake up. Two of the three neurologists to examine him are certain he is completely and totally brain dead. The third sees some electrical activity, and cannot say whether there is total brain death, but agrees that the child will never wake up. Doctors wish to take the boy off life support; In their eyes, he is dead. He cannot survive without a ventilator and his heart needs assistance to beat. But the boy’s parents

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[The Daily 07-19-2006] Death Made Pretty

Kelly Hills 2006-07-19 Death by lethal injection was dealt a blow last month when a U.S. district judge ruled the process may cause extreme pain and suffering before death. In the United States, death comes in a three-drug cocktail. First, a drug is administered to cause unconsciousness. Another causes paralysis and a third stops the heart. The objection is that it’s possible for someone not to be fully unconscious after being given the first drug, and feel both the paralysis and the burn of potassium that will stop the heart, causing significant fear and pain. The court ruled fatal drugs couldn’t be administered without certified medical personnel there to ensure the prisoner is first unconscious before administering further drugs. Since no medical personnel can be found who are willing to violate the American Medical Association ruling that it would be unethical to participate in involuntary death, there have been no

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[The Daily] – The Right to Life

The Right to Life 2006-07-05 So here’s a question for you to mull over: When were you old enough to make your own decisions? Chances are you were pretty young when you figured out you didn’t like the taste of broccoli. And you probably weren’t old enough the first time getting drunk sounded like a good idea. Now ask yourself this: At what age were you old enough to make your own medical decisions? You were probably old enough to know what you wanted or didn’t want, medically speaking, before you turned 18. Probably even before 16 or 14, although it gets murkier the younger you go. Some kids are a lot more capable of that sort of thinking than others. I doubt anyone thinks they were young children when they were able to make their own medical decisions. Since the concept requires speech, infants are ruled out. This means

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[The Daily] – Biological Incubators

Biological Incubators 2006-06-21 Susan Anne Catherine Torres and Cristina Doe were born 10 months apart, in August 2005 and June 2006, respectively. Sadly, Susan Torres passed away six weeks after birth. Yet these two girls are connected to one another through a very unusual circumstance: Both babies were born to braindead women. According to Dr. Winston Campbell of the University of Connecticut Health Center, there are approximately a dozen cases of braindead women completing gestation to the point of delivering a viable fetus in the medical literature. Further research in the journal of Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey shows another 15 cases of pregnant women in persistent vegetative states remaining on life support to deliver. While there are few cases in the literature, this is largely because technology has only recently advanced to the point of making this a possible practice. The idea of leaving a woman on life support to

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[The Daily] – Medicine or Miracle?

Medicine or Miracle? 2006-05-30 A recent episode of the television show House titled “House vs. God” dealt with the idea of faith healing, something that comes up a lot these days in medical journals. What is the power of prayer? Does faith healing work? Can miracles happen? As many are aware, there have been multiple studies that attempt to look at these subjects, the strongest being that of the effect prayer has on people. Unfortunately, even the people running these studies will tell you they are not well designed, and potentially flawed. This came to light recently when one of the most comprehensive studies on the power of prayer showed that prayer for post-operative cardiac patients actually appeared to have a slightly detrimental effect on the patient. Perhaps this is a reflection of my interdisciplinary training, but I think the much more interesting questions to ask are why miracles can’t

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