Friday, March 7, 2008

Disturbed

I got to know recently of a very disturbing thing.

There was a person on dialysis who was HIV positive. I did not know him but got to know of this through someone. He came to a hospital to get dialysis and the staff was hesitant to dialyze him. But they did eventually. He had a few sessions over the next couple of weeks. But the staff were worried that the infection could pass to other patients.

The doctor suggested he go in for CAPD. So, he got his catheter placed and switched to PD for a few weeks. But he preferred hemo so came back to the hospital. The staff first refused. He threatened to take them to court for this. They relented eventually and dialyzed him. They did all they could to discourage him from coming for dialysis. But he persisted.

Apparently, his family was also tired of him and maybe scared too that they would get infected.

One day, the doctor, the dialysis technician and his family decided they had had enough. They decided to play god.

The life of an individual was no longer important. The trust the patient placed in his doctor was no longer important. The duty of the caregivers was no longer important. The love of a family was no longer important.

The ultrafiltration rate was set so high that the patient went into severe hypotension and died on dialysis.

Death was probably a welcome relief from the burden of life. Who knows? With the kind of people around him, the patient might have preferred this release. Had he only known.

For an outside observer these things are easy to say. But the desire to live, however compromised life is, is really a powerful force. It gives a person immense strength to fight. To fight against the most compelling reasons to give up. To fight against one's own destiny.

2 comments:

billpeckham.com said...

That's murder.

In the United States, in the mid '80s particularly, we failed the challenge HIV/AIDS presents. For example, children (hemophiliacs mostly) were shunned by their community and harassed because of their medical condition.

The staff and family of this man failed their challenge.

Vinod said...

Absolutely shocking.

The problem in India is that the medical fraternity distinguishes between "normal" patients (where they do not bother to take precautions even to protect themselves) and patients afflicted by HIV or Hepatitis (when they wear two layers of gloves and sanitise every object the patient and his body fluids came in contact with.

In advanced countries, the precautions taken are as if every patient had something like the AIDS virus in their body.

An example needs to be made by prosecuting the collaborators of the murder of the patient, to increase awareness of the medical and ethical issues involved.