Life Support – Elena Dickinson

The picture shows a man o life support in a hospital. It also shows the complex life support machines.

The picture shows a man on life support in a hospital. It also shows the complex life support machines.

Life support is a computerised system that hospitals use to do a body’s work for it if, for whatever reason, it can no longer function properly. “Pulling the Plug” is the common phrase for taking a person off of life support when they have little or no hope left for recovery. This responsibility is given to the patient’s family. I chose to research life support because of an interesting discussion that our wellness class had on “pulling the plug” and life support. I also chose this topic because of the recent tragedy with Mr. O’Neel. He was an ES teacher at ISM who got into a motorcycle accident during the summer holidays. He was on life support in a coma after the crash, but his family eventually decided to pull the plug. This is an extremely relevant and important topic because anybody – teenagers, children, adults, family members, friends – can get into an accident and need life support. It is also important to talk to your family about wishes for pulling the plug, so that you all know how to react if anybody ever got fatally hurt and was put on life support.

While researching this topic I learned that life support was issued when the patient loses control of their lungs (near drowning, pneumonia, drug overdose, blood clot), heart (cardiac arrest, heart attack), or brain (stroke, severe blow to head). I also learned more about the ongoing debate over whether family members should be able to “pull the plug”, and whether that is fair and just. On one hand, it stops their life, but on the other, it prolongs their suffering. I believe that life support is an amazing invention and has saved countless lives. I also believe that family members should only be able to “pull the plug” when there is no hope left for the patient. I have changed my thinking after researching this topic because I previously believed that family members should not be able to decide when the patient’s life is over, but I now understand how it could do them a favour by ending their suffering and letting them move on from the pain. This has influenced my thinking about wellness because I can now understand that wellness is different for every person, just like some people would want to be unplugged and believe that pulling the plug is the solution, whereas others believe that it is cruel and unacceptable. Wellness and health only lasts until you pull the plug.

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