Thomas L. McDonald over at God and the Machine wrote a great article earlier this week, Should Autism Be a Death Sentence?
He raises the serious question of who gets advanced health care in an age of rationing. The article centers around the plight of Paul Corby, a young man who suffers from autism and a potentially fatal heart condition. The question: Does autism disqualify Paul from receiving a heart transplant?
This leads us into the uncomfortable who-dies/who-lives decisions that “ethicists” toss around. Only this isn’t a hypothetical for Paul Corby and his family. It’s life and death.
Thomas L. McDonald’s excellent article says in part:
Paul Corby is 23, autistic, and suffers from a potentially fatal heart condition called left ventricular noncompaction. He’s high-functioning enough to have written and self-published a novel for pre-teens, but he also has severe social problems, is prone to emotional outbursts, and suffers from various psychological and developmental issues. He spends much of his day playing video games and never goes anywhere without a stuffed Princess Peach doll. Although he needs 19 different medications (many of them for his heart condition), according to his mother he handles his own med management. His heart problems are serious enough to warrant a transplant.And the doctors at the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania think he should die. Welcome to the wonderful world of 21st century medicine!
No one denies that there is a shortage of organs for transplant. Rationing is a sad reality, and each year several hundred people die while waiting for organs. Please note, however, that those people died while waiting for a viable organ. Paul Corby has been told he’s not even fit to be on the waiting list. Because he’s autistic … read more here