Doctors Communicate with Vegetable Through Brain Scans

 

A Canadian man named Scott Routley, who has been in a vegetative state for 12 years, was able to communicate with doctors via a brain scan, proving that even a seemingly brain dead person may have an active and fully conscious mind. He was able to successfully explain to doctors that he is not in pain.

A vegetative state is defined by being unaware of your surrounding and incapable of conscious thought. Until this remarkable discovery, Routley was thought to be a complete vegetable.

This is the first time in medical history that a vegetative patient has been able to relate some type of clinically relevant information to doctors.  British neuroscientist professor Adrian Owen, leader of the research team at the Brain and Mind Institute of Western Ontario, said:

Scott has been able to show he has a conscious, thinking mind. We have scanned him several times and his pattern of brain activity shows he is clearly choosing to answer our questions. We believe he knows who and where he is.

The team uses an fMRI scanner to located active regions of the brain.  They ask the patient to imagine playing tennis or walking around their home.  These thought process create very distinct patterns of activity in the brain. The doctors are able to assign one thought process as meaning ‘yes’ and the other as meaning ‘no.’  In this way, Routley is able to have a conversation with the doctors through his imagination.

Proffessor Owen believes this breakthrough will make a profound difference in improving the lives of patients all around the world.  He explains that:

In [the] future we could ask what we could do to improve their quality of life. It could be simple things like the entertainment we provide, or the times of day they are washed and fed.

Professor Owen believes that 20% or more of people assumed to be in a complete vegetative state may in fact be completely conscious.

I believe far more time and consideration must go into ensuring people like Routley are still able to live as comfortably as possible. It is equally important that these people are able to make decisions for themselves. They may not have control of their body, but their life is still their own.

 

Sources:

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/vegetative-patient-communicates-1.748615

https://wondergressive.com/2012/09/01/death-is-a-privilege-not-a-right/

 

Death is a Privilege, Not a Right

Tony Nicklinson was denied the right to die, being condemned to an inescapable life of, in Nicklinson’s words, “increasing indignity and misery.”

Despite lawmakers infringing and stepping on the only peace and dignity that remained for Nicklinson by telling him it would be illegal to die with the help of a doctor, he died 6 days after hearing the verdict after starving himself and developing  pneumonia.

Nicklinson was 58 years old and was simply seeking an end to his  “dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable” life after he was left paralysed below the neck following a stroke.  After hearing the judgement and weeping uncontrollably, he stated, by using a computer interface and eye movements, that “his anguish would continue.”

He was a helpless man asking for one last moment of help, “to be able to exercise the freedom which everyone else would have: to decide how to end this constant tortuous situation.”  His request for help was blatantly denied.

Dr Antony Lempert, explained that the ruling left Nicklinson with bleak options.  “Because other people regard his tortured life as somehow sacred, or are fearful of societal consequences, he is forced to endure his suffering or take desperate measures to end it. With no hope now of a quick release, he must choose between this torment and the torment of allowing his family to stand by and watch him starve himself to death.”  The latter is the sordid reality that lawmakers let happen.

What the hell is going on?  How can a someone be told that they are not allowed to end their own life?  If a man is in endless, inescapable agony how can someone claim it is better for that agony to continue than to end? Are our lives not our own?

Apparently not.

 

Assisted Suicide: Death is a Privilege, Not a Right

assisted suicide death prohibit

Assisted suicide could help thousands of people be released from permanent suffering. http://www.magicmonkeys.co.uk

Tony Nicklinson was denied the right to die, as he was told that assisted suicide was simply illegal in his home country of England. This law condemned him to an inescapable life of, in Nicklinson’s words,

increasing indignity and misery.

Lawmakers infringed upon and stepped on the only peace and dignity that remained for Nicklinson by telling him it would be illegal to die with the help of a doctor through assisted suicide. Despite his unanswered cries to be released through assisted suicide, he died 6 days after hearing the verdict after starving himself and developing pneumonia.

Nicklinson was 58 years old and was simply seeking an end to his

dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable life.

Nicklinson began contemplating assisted suicide after he was left paralyzed below the neck following a stroke. After hearing the judgement and weeping uncontrollably, he stated, by using a computer interface and eye movements, that

his anguish would continue.

He was a helpless man asking for one last moment of help,

to be able to exercise the freedom which everyone else would have: to decide how to end this  constant tortuous situation.

His request for help was blatantly denied with words of policy and bureaucracy. Assisted suicide was Nicklinson’s only solution to a world of pain, but that makes no difference to many lawmakers all around the world.

Dr Antony Lempert, explained that the ruling left Nicklinson with bleak options.

Because other people regard his tortured life as somehow sacred, or are fearful of societal consequences, he is forced to endure his suffering or take desperate measures to end it. With no hope now of a quick release, he must choose between this torment and the torment of allowing his family to stand by and watch him starve himself to death.

The latter is the sordid reality that lawmakers let happen.

What is going on?  How can a someone be told that they are not allowed to end their own life?  If a person is in endless, inescapable agony, how can someone claim it is better for that agony to continue than to end? Assited suicide is illegal in England, and currently in the US, assisted suicide is only legal in Montana, Washington, and Oregon.

Are our lives not our own? According to multiple supreme court decisions, no, they’re not. You may not agree with assisted suicide, but then again, unless you’re in a situation similar to Nicklinson, you shouldn’t be making decisions about it.

 

Sources:

The Right to Die

Tony Nicklinson Dies

Assisted Suicide in the US

Supreme Court Case on Assisted Suicide: Vacco V. Quill