When life support was first invented, it was considered to be a godsend initially and a form of medical treatment that was revolutionary. However, over time the topic of life support has taken a life of its own and become very controversial in nature. It is an issue that raises not only ethical questions and concerns, but also moral and even monetary issues. This has resulted in life support becoming something that is not clear cut. The choice to use life support changes depending on the person in question. This type of medical care is unique and there is really no right or wrong opinion on the topic of life support.
What is Life Support?
Life support is a term that is used when referring to the use of a ventilator. A mechanical ventilator is a machine that breathes for individuals that can’t do so on their own. This allows them to stay alive. There are a variety of different reasons why life support is needed and some individuals on life support do recover. It simply depends on the individual and the condition that they are dealing with. The trauma to the body and brain play a big part in the amount of time that life support is required.
Where is the Confusion?
Life support is an issue that is very controversial and people on both sides have very strong opinions. As stated before, there is no right or wrong opinion about life support, because etherizes many factors that influence your viewpoint. The best way to approach the topic of life support is to breakdown the pros and cons. Taking a closer look at the positives and negatives allows you to gain a new perspective on the topic. As with any issue, when religion and beliefs come into play remaining unbiased is difficult. Every situation is unique and although life support can be lifesaving, it also can lead to pain, suffering and other devastating effects. The decision of life support is not something that should be taken lightly.
Pros with Life Support
Life support allows for the ability to hope. Families that are dealing with a traumatic event often need time to evaluate and actually accept the situation. Life support sustains the life of a loved one for grieving families that need more time. Some patients do make a full recovery after they are put on life support, but this is often not the case. The ability to simply have this hope for a period of time is invaluable for many families that are dealing with grief. Many cases are similar to that of Elaine Esposito. She had her appendix removed in 1941 and never woke up form her surgery, which led to her being put on life support. She was in a comatose state for over 36 years and died without ever waking.
Another real positive aspect of the topic of life support is the ability to help others beyond the patient and the grieving families. Keeping people on life support for a period of time allows families to come to terms with the death of a loved one and agree to donate their organs. There are hundreds of thousands of people that are waiting for organ donations and life support helps to increase the amount of organs that are donated each year. Not everyone that is on life support will be an organ donor, but there is a chance that someone will benefit from patients being kept alive long enough for their organs to be donated.
Cons with Life Support
Cost of Life Support
Life support might be seen as a godsend or revolutionary medicine to some, but it is very costly. In the case of Esposito, the cost of keeping her on life support for almost 40 years was astronomical. Families that choose to keep loved ones on life support are saddled with extremely high hospital bills. Not only is the life support equipment needed, but any patient on life support also requires doctors, nurses and complete hospital care. This hospital staff is obligated to care for all patients on life support even if their prognosis is not good.
Many of those that are against life support claim to be against prolonging suffering. Not only is the patient left to suffer, but the family is also left in a state of limbo that can be very devastating. Your loved one may be technically alive, but they are not breathing on their own. Life support involves machines keeping them alive.