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Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Ethics Of Prolonging Life, Or Pulling The Plug

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon speaks during a press conference at his Jerusalem office November 2005. Seven years after a devastating stroke, Sharon remains in a coma. (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon speaks during a press conference at his Jerusalem office in November 2005. Seven years after a devastating stroke, Sharon remains in a coma. (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke in January 2006. But recently in tests he showed signs of brain activity.

Doctors performed brain scans on the 84-year-old Sharon while showing him pictures of random houses. When they flashed a picture of his own home, Sharon’s brain images lit up.

Sharon’s brain also responded to family voices, but not other sounds.

Does that mean Ariel Sharon is “in there” – conscious in a body that can’t move? And what does all of this mean for patients and families in similar situations?

Bioethicist Art Caplan, who heads the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, says the brain test results do not mean that Sharon will wake up.

And prolonging the life of Sharon – and others like him – may be causing misery, Caplan said, if he has any awareness of being trapped in his body.

How would you decide if/when to remove life support? Let us know in the comments or join the debate on our Facebook page.

Guest:


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  • rogger2

    Amen Caplan!
    I couldn’t agree with you more.  

  • Pat Terry

    The most compassionat way of allowing A body to die in peace is to guide the soul beyond.
    Let the soul soar on to Its next incarnation.  Release the soul to spirit!

  • Hirsch21n@yahoo.com

    Mr Caplan, I take great exception of even the thought of as you say pulling the plug on Prime Minister Sharon. You say he may be in misery hell he just may not be!!! I don’t believe he has any pain at all. G-d is taking care of Ariel and will till till it is his time to leave us !!! has come. My hope is that he comes out of his sleep to be with his sons again. DON’T YOU EVER FORGET MR. CAPLAN, ARIEL IS THE REAL KING OF ISRAEL AND WILL BE FOREVER.I LOVE HIM WITH ALL MY HEART, PlEASE COME BACK TO US MYGREAT KING, WE ALL MISS YOU S MUCH. REGARDS, Lionel Hirsch Sydney n.s

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