Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘brain injury’

From the Britain’s The Daily Mail comes another story of a “miraculous” recovery by a patient who was declared brain dead by the attending doctors.  Of course, organ donation has a starring role.

They were told there was no chance of their son surviving after he suffered devastating injuries in a car crash.

But Steven Thorpe’s parents refused to give up hope – despite four specialists declaring that the 17-year-old was brain dead.

Convinced they saw a ‘flicker’ of life as Steven lay in a coma, John and Janet Thorpe rejected advice to switch off his life support machine.

They begged for another opinion – and it was a decision that saved him.

A neurosurgeon found faint signs of brain activity

And of course, the link to organ donation:

‘The doctors were telling my parents that they wanted to take me off the life support. The words they used to my parents were “You need to start thinking about organ donations”.

Yes, of course the doctors wanted the family to be thinking about organ donation.  I guarantee someone of the staff at the hospital started their own thinking about organ donation within minutes of the EMT arrival of a brain injured patient.

This could be a photo of hospital organ donation administrators...or a pair of vultures.

Steven is now 21, a graduate and clerical trainee.  Despite losing use of his left arm and “extensive reconstructive surgery to his face” including having both his nose and eye socket rebuilt, Steven says he considers his survival as “a full recovery” and is very grateful that his parents were adamant to bring in another opinion.

The hospital issued a statement to The Daily Mail,

‘The injury to Steven’s brain was extremely critical and several CT scans of the head showed almost irreversible damage.

‘It is extremely rare that a patient with such extensive trauma to the brain should survive. We were delighted to see Steven recover.’

The article does not state whether the hospital told Steven’s parents, as they urged them to donate ‘dead’ Steven’s organs, that he had “almost irreversible damage.”  When a grieving family is told to start thinking about organ donation, they think their loved one is dead, not almost dead.  But time and again, stories like this show us that to an unfortunate number of medical workers, “almost dead” = “dead dead”.

Dr. Piper, the General Practitioner whose involvement saved Steven’s life notes, “I am astonished with the outcome but one worries that this may happen more often than we know.”

I’m worried too.

h/t to Lifesitenews whose own article on this story includes several references to similar recent “miraculous” recoveries.  Furthermore, they have a dozen similar articles linked at the bottom of their post.  Educate yourself and check it out.

 

Read Full Post »

The news on this case of the poor man who lost 23 years to the misdiagnosis of ‘vegetative coma’ status just gets more fascinating.  Things I have learned:

  • His family never believed he was vegetative and his mom requested numerous follow-up tests, all of which were a ‘fail’ for Mr. Houben but an even bigger failure of  the neuro “experts”
  • He was tested no less than 5 times here in the United States by our doctors who did not catch his normally functioning brain activity (!!!)
  • What Mr. Houben suffered from was a condition known as “locked-in syndrome“.
  • Dr. Laureys works for a group called the Coma Science Group in Belgium whose mission is “to improve the medical care and understanding of disorders of consciousness following an acute insult such as coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious state or locked-in syndrome.”
  • Mr. Houben’s conscious state was found using no fancier a tool than a PET scan (!!!)
  • The rate of misdiagnosis of vegetative state has not substantially changed in the past 15 years (no improvement?–yikes!!!)
  • new comparison of methods for detecting consciousness suggests that around 40 per cent of people diagnosed as being in a vegetative state are in fact “minimally conscious(!!!)
  • Satan’s little helpers in the bioethicists field won’t go quietly on this, either. **see below
  • Catholic bioethicists like Mr. Haas are probably rather lonely in their field. (pray for them!)
  • Dying because you were denied water until you suffocated is called “being allowed to die(Somehow, I doubt PETA or SPCA would agree with this definition if the ‘beneficiary’ of one’s kindness is a dog or cat.)
  • The Associated Press continues to change their news headlines to obfuscate, hide or bury information that is inconvenient to their liberal viewpoints.  Notice that the headline says he was ‘mute’ not that he was a ‘misdiagnosed coma patient’ as foreign papers called him.

Be assured that I’ll post more as I find it.  I’m sure that Satan’s Little Helpers in the Relativist camp won’t sit still on this.

**

Arthur Caplan, a bioethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said he is skeptical of Houben’s ability to communicate after seeing video of his hand being moved along the keyboard. “That’s called ‘facilitated communication,'” Caplan said. “That is ouija board stuff. It’s been discredited time and time again. When people look at it, it’s usually the person doing the pointing who’s doing the messages, not the person they claim they are helping.”

 Caplan also said the statements Houben allegedly made with the computer seem unnatural for someone with such a profound injury and an inability to communicate for decades.

UPDATE:  the doctor who finally “released” Mr. Houben, Dr. Steven Laureys was an invited member of the 2004 Congress on Life-Sustaining Treatments in the Vegetative State organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Life which produced this:  The Joint Statement on the Vegetative State.  While it seems that he counseled the Academy to not overly interpret the importance of his research vis a vis end of life decisions, nevertheless, he did present his findings of the problems in diagnostic interpretation, resulting in an error rate of over 40% of the “vegetative state” (“VS”) patients. 

By the way, that Pontifical  statement is quite a remarkable and well-written document.  It says in part:

5) VS diagnosis is still clinical in nature and requires careful and prolonged observation, carried out by specialized and experienced personnel using specific assessment standardized for VS patients in an optimum-controlled environment. Medical literature, in fact, shows diagnostic errors in a substantially high proportion of cases. For this reason, when needed, all available modern technologies should be used to substantiate the diagnosis….

7) No single investigation method available today allows us to predict, in individual cases, who will recover and who will not among VS patients….

9) We acknowledge that every human being has the dignity of a human person, without any discrimination based on race, culture, religion, health conditions or socio-economic conditions. Such a dignity, based on human nature itself, is a permanent and intangible value that cannot depend on specific circumstances of life and cannot be subordinated to anyone’s judgment.

We recognize the search for the best possible quality of life for every human being as an intrinsic duty of medicine and society, but we believe that it cannot and must not be the ultimate criterion used to judge the value of a human being’s life.

We acknowledge that the dignity of every person can also be expressed in the practice of autonomous choices; however, personal autonomy can never justify decisions or actions against one’s own life or that of others:  in fact, the exercise of freedom is impossible outside of life.
10) Based on these premises, we feel the duty to state that VS patients are human persons, and as such, they need to be fully respected in their fundamental rights. The first of these rights is the right to life and to the safeguard of health. In particular, VS patients have the right to: 

– correct and thorough diagnostic evaluation, in order to avoid possible mistakes and to orient rehabilitation in the best way;
– basic care, including hydration, nutrition, warming and personal hygiene;
– prevention of possible complications and monitoring for any possible signs of recovery;
– adequate rehabilitative processes, prolonged in time, favouring the recovery and maintenance of all progress achieved;

– be treated as any other patients with reference to general assistance and affective relationships.
This requires that any decision of abandonment based on a probability judgment be discouraged, considering the insufficiency and unreliability of prognostic criteria available to date. The possible decision of withdrawing nutrition and hydration, necessarily administered to VS patients in an assisted way, is followed inevitably by the patients’ death as a direct consequence. Therefore, it has to be considered a genuine act of euthanasia by omission, which is morally unacceptable.

At the same time, we refuse any form of therapeutic obstinacy in the context of resuscitation, which can be a substantial cause of post-anoxic VS.

It also requests that the term “permanent” not be used with VS patients.

Okay, well I said I would update you as I found out things.  Fascinating.  Horrifying and fascinating.

Read Full Post »

A Catholic bioethics expert weighs in on the case of Rom Houben, which is quickly becoming one of my all-time most read posts.  In an interview with Catholic News Agency,  John Haas, President of the Philadelphia-based National Catholic Bioethics Center suggests the case shows the wisdom of Catholic teaching on the duty to provide sustenance for those believed to be comatose.

Houben’s mistaken diagnosis was a “perfect example” of why artificial nutrition and hydration should be continued, Haas said.

He reported that the U.S. Catholic bishops last week passed a modified version of Directive 58 of the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) for Catholic healthcare. This directive spoke of “the moral obligation to continue to provide hydration and nutrition to patients in a compromised state,” Haas said.

“This obligation extends to patients in chronic conditions (e.g. the ‘persistent vegetative state’) who can reasonably be expected to live indefinitely if given such care,” the ERD read.

“The bishops have always held to that position,” Haas explained, but some other Catholic voices have not.

In 2004, Haas noted, Pope John Paul II delivered an allocution in which he again said it is necessary to provide hydration and nutrition as long as it is “achieving its end” of nurturing the body.

Houben’s recovery, he said, would seem to be “a case where the Church’s position was actually ahead of the curve.”

Asked about Dr. Laureys’ comments about the difficulty of a patient permanently labeled as “unconscious,” Haas said he hoped health care providers would not have negative attitudes towards such patients.

However, he noted that Pope John Paul II described how “regrettable” it was that the medical term for such patients was “persistent vegetative state.”

Some doctors’ comments and medical terminologies “do tend to devalue and demean these people, which is really unfortunate.”

He said the case could help confirm the position of those who oppose physician-assisted suicide, but where the practice is legalized the patients are generally required to be conscious and responsive.

However, Houben’s case would be relevant to those with advanced medical directives who say they want artificial hydration and nutrition removed if they are unconscious and unlikely ever to wake.

The Catholic tradition holds that hydration and nutrition cannot be removed if a person will die of dehydration and starvation, Haas reiterated.

I’m not sure that CNA should have let this last statement stand.  I think what the Church is teaching goes beyond small “t” tradition–I’m not sure where JPII’s ‘allocution’ falls.  I’m sure one of you will correct me on that, if I’m wrong.  I’d also go one further than Mr. Haas to say that–as we have seen time and again (contraceptives, artificial insemination, stem cell research)–the Church is always ahead of the curve.  And over at The American Catholic blog, in an article with a  wonderfully complete title, Dave Hartline agrees with me.

Catholic bioethicist weighs in on paralyzed man thought to be unconscious for 23 years.

Read Full Post »

…you had better have an improved way of checking the brain than currently exists.  I mean, I’m repeating myself here, but–doctors really don’t know much about brain injury…or how the brain works…or even if it is working.  As is proven by the news from the UK that doctors misdiagnosed a supposed “vegetative coma patient” for TWENTY-THREE YEARS!  My comments in brackets.  All emphases are mine, too.

A man thought by doctors to be in a vegetative state for 23 years was actually conscious the whole time, it was revealed last night.

Student Rom Houben was misdiagnosed after a car crash left him totally paralysed.

He had no way of letting experts, family or friends know he could hear every word they said.

‘I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,’ said Mr Houben, now 46. [doesn’t this sound like a horrific episode of The Twilight Zone? but this really happened!]

Doctors used a range of coma tests, recognised worldwide, [but apparently pretty lousy] before reluctantly concluding that his consciousness was ‘extinct’. [um, ‘reluctantly’?  just stick to the facts, reporter]

But three years ago, new hi-tech scans showed his brain was still functioning almost completely normally. [if this happened three years ago, why is it only now being reported?]

“Almost completely normally”–yet it went unnoticed for twenty-three years.  I don’t care how reluctant the doctors were, the fact is, they did not have a clue.  I’ll let that sink into your brain, no pun intended.  This is an area that I will post about whenever and wherever I find it, and it can’t be said enough:  we really do not know what is going on within the trapped consciousness of these patients.  “We” meaning, the experts, doctors and scientists, not to mention the family members who are making life and death decisions based on the opinion of one doctor (in most cases) with one other doctor signing off.  Yet, we see that our society time and again certifies these patients for death.  It’s truly horrifying.   Think this is a fluke?  read on.

Mr Houben, a former martial arts enthusiast, was paralysed in 1983.

Doctors in Zolder, Belgium, used the internationally accepted Glasgow Coma Scale to assess his eye, verbal and motor responses.

But each time he was graded incorrectly. [how accurate can this scale be?  what criteria is used to train on reading it or interpreting it? if ‘internationally accepted’,  is it being used here in our local hospitals?]

Only a re-evaluation of his case at the University of Liege discovered that he had lost control of his body but was still fully aware of what was happening.

He is never likely to leave hospital, but as well as his computer he now has a special device above his bed which lets him read books while lying down.

Mr Houben said: ‘I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me – it was my second birth.

‘I want to read, talk with my friends via the computer and enjoy my life now that people know I am not dead.’  [And thankfully he was not made to BE DEAD through the removal of food and water, which could easily happen these days.]

Dr Laureys’s new study claims that patients classed as in a vegetative state are often misdiagnosed

‘Anyone who bears the stamp of “unconscious” just one time hardly ever gets rid of it again,’ he said.

The doctor, who leads the Coma Science Group and Department of Neurology at Liege University Hospital, found Mr Houben’s brain was still working by using state-of-the-art imaging.

He plans to use the case to highlight what he considers may be similar examples around the world[I really want to read about those, don’t you?]

Dr Laureys said: ‘In Germany alone each year some 100,000 people suffer from severe traumatic brain injury.

‘About 20,000 are followed by a coma of three weeks or longer. Some of them die, others regain health.

‘But an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people a year remain trapped in an intermediate stage – they go on living without ever coming back again.’  [That’s a lot of people!]

Supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide argue that people who have lain in persistent vegetative states for years should be given the opportunity to have crucial medical support withdrawn because of the ‘indignity’ of their condition.  [Who writes this stuff?  “given the opportunity” to choke to death on their swollen tongues?  What an opportunity!  Yes, I am sure they wouldn’t want the indignity of life.]

But there have been several cases in which people judged to be in vegetative states or deep comas have recovered.

Twenty years ago, Carrie Coons, an 86-year-old from New York, regained consciousness after a year, took small amounts of food by mouth and engaged in conversation.

Only days before her recovery, a judge had granted her family’s request for the removal of the feeding tube which had been keeping her alive.  [I hope her first act was to change her will]

In the UK in 1993, doctors switched off the life support system keeping alive Tony Bland, a 22-year- old who had been in a coma for three years following the Hillsborough disaster.

Dr Laureys was not available for comment yesterday and it is not clear why he thought Mr Houben should have the hi-tech screening when so many years had passed.  [my completely uneducated guess, based on his comments, is that this is a doctor who has not sold out to the culture of death]

Let us pray for those who have received brain injuries, those who are in vegetative states and those for whom doctors and nurses are caring who may not be able to communicate with them, just as this young man was trapped within himself for 23 years.  Let us pray that medicine continues to improve.  And let us pray that we stamp out the widescale disposal of our medical ethics and our morals in this climate of relativism…this culture of death.

UPDATE:  A Catholic bioethics expert weighs in on the case of Rom Houben

Read Full Post »