Bioethics Blogs

Half a Million Dollars Couldn’t Buy My Husband His Life. But That Didn’t Stop Me from Trying

This Washington Post op-ed is a compelling explanation from a surrogate (Amanda Bennett) on why she demanded aggressive interventions ($618,616 worth) at the end of life.  The story is apparently adapted from her book, The Cost of Hope.

“When, in the middle of a dark December night, the University of Pennsylvania intensive care resident told me my husband of 20 years might not live through the night, I did what many people do: I asked the doctor to do what he could to keep him alive. Not to do crazy stuff. Not to try stuff he knew would be useless. Just do what he could.”

Bennett asks:  “What makes patients and families like ours make the choices they do?”  She answers her own question:  

  • “For one thing, the pace and success of scientific advances makes letting go much harder. To a medical professional, perhaps, the last end-of-life warning seemed clear cut. But how was I to know it was the last? It was the third end-of-life warning we had received . . . . We had beaten this before. Couldn’t we beat it again? Couldn’t we hold out for more discoveries?”
  • “‘Fighting’ illness and death is also something we have all been culturally conditioned to think of as virtuous. . . .”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.