I ask all who read this blog to lift up to Our Lord in prayer Stephen Hand, his wife and his son who was in a tragic accident this past weekend — the following posted to TCRNews.com:
A Cry to Priests, Theologians, and My Sisters and Brothers for Help
Today my family and I were given heartbreaking news, that my son’s cerebral cortex, which controls cognition / thinking, has been damaged beyond human hope due to having been deprived of oxygen “for apparently a long time” sometime between Sat 12:30 AM and 1 PM (an 11.5 hr window). This means, we were told, the “thinking part” of his brain is “gone forever,” barring a miracle, and that within 48 hours we should make a decision to take him off artificial life support “and give him peace”. We asked for a second opinion and received the same answer, breaking our hearts altogether.
Apparently this morning, at the same time, they began feeding my son liquid nutrition / food through a nasal tuble. When I asked the doctors whether he would die from just the removing him from artificial life support, they told us not necessarily. He would, they said, because of his youth, more likely die first of dehydration and lack of nutrition. This means starvation and filled me with anxiety. We need help here to be morally certain in making a family decision. Is this removing of a nasal tube identical to the situation Terri Schiavo was in? Would this mean “actively killing” my son? Please, if you can find it in your heart to send me a brief, preferably official document, clarifying this for us, I / we would be most grateful. I am very reluctant to remove nourishment for the very same reasons the Schiavo’s were. Am I missing something here? Is there some factor which makes the cases different in any essential way? Under what terms, if any, is it allowable, according to the Church, to remove nutritional support once it has been introduced?
Please pray that God’s will is done, and for my family. The agony of watching a beloved son in what is being called an irreversible coma, is almost too much to bear. So we cling to the cross. Help us, if you can, to know what His will is in Heaven in regard to all this. Perhaps I should know all this myself, but I feel shamefully in deep confusion. Thank you. Send your replies to TCRnews2.firstname.lastname@example.org and thank you in advance for understanding that I may not be able to reply immediately. —Stephen Hand
Further updates will be made available as we receive them. Lord have mercy.
Update (Tuesday PM), posted to TCRNews.com:
We will be informing the hospital that while we approve the removing of all artificial life support sometime after Jeremy’s pneumonia has cleared, we cannot ever approve any interruption or removal of a feeding tube which provides for the ordinary maintenance of life (the unity of body and soul). Thank you so very much for the caring of so many who wrote to help us work through these issues. . . . And especially thank you for your prayers which Jeremy and we still need. I’ll try to move on with TCR now as time permits.
Please continue to remember Stephen, his son Jeremy, and his family in your prayers. Regular updates from Stephen can be found at http://www.tcrnews2.com/Jeremy.html.