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Friday, October 07, 2005

man in coma for 2 years heard, understood everything

From this Guardian Unlimited story.
A man who began speaking again after two years in a coma says that he had heard and understood everything going on around him. Salvatore Crisafulli, 38, has had great difficulty in speaking since recovering, but, asked if he could remember the past two years, he replied "yes" and wept. In true Italian style, his mother told reporters that his first word had been "Mamma".

The recovery is being hailed as a miracle in his home city of Catania in Sicily, and came to light on the day Italy's bioethics committee was voting on whether to feed patients in a persistent vegetative state.

The committee backed a motion, supported by rightwing government parties, that ruled against suspending feeding. "To feed an unconscious patient through a tube is not a medical act," said the committee's president, Francesco D'Agostino. "It's like giving a bottle to a newborn baby who can't be nursed by its mother." Earlier this week a Vatican bishops' synod reiterated the Catholic view that everything possible should be done to keep patients alive.
Good article, but I don't think that last sentence is an accurate summation of the Catholic view. I believe it is more along the lines that food and water should never be withheld, even if they must go in by a tube. The analogy to a baby receiving a bottle is a good one. I believe the Catholic Church allows for pulling the plug on a heart or lung machine in certain cases, as this is considered extraordinary means of keeping a body alive. Being in a coma and unable to feed yourself is a much different thing entirely.


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