Thursday, October 20, 2005

Jimmy Chambers Wants To Live

You should seriously think about whether or not you should sign a living will.

Jimmy Chambers, age 79, is facing a death sentence ordered by his wife.

On August 20, in Naples, Florida, Mr. Chambers was riding a lawnmower to help his son with some yard work. Mr. Chambers apparently looked away briefly and ran into a large tree limb. It bent him backwards over the machine and he was found lying unconscious.

Chambers suffered severe injuries including a broken back, a spinal chord injury and a torn aorta. He wasn't expected to leave the emergency room alive. But he did.

Mr. Chambers apparently signed a living will in 1990 when he and his wife lived in Iowa. Mrs. Chambers claims the living will reads in part that if he sustained an incurable or irreversible condition resulting in death within a relatively short period of time, it was his desire that his life not be prolonged by medical procedures.

Doctors performed surgery to repair Mr. Chambers' back, but he was now paraplegic. The doctors determined that spinal shock had left him dependent on a ventilator, and a gastric feeding tube was inserted into his abdomen. The doctors also weren't sure if Mr. Chambers would ever be able to stop using the ventilator and feeding tube.

Mrs. Chambers and one of the couple's daughters produced the living will and wanted the facility to disconnect the ventilator and kill Mr. Chambers. He didn't designate a power of attorney or anyone to serve as the medical decision maker if he were to become incapacitated. He has not been declared incapacitated, so his family asked him what he wanted to do.

Remove the ventilator or not.

After he had been off of morphine and other medication, his family asked him if he wanted to stay on the ventilator. He answered yes. Mr. Chambers was asked if he understood that he probably would never be able to go home again, and would more than likely have to live in a facility, on the ventilator, for the rest of his life and he answered yes, again. He was asked if he wanted the ventilator to be removed and he answered no. He was asked if he understood that he would die if the ventilator were removed, his answer was yes.

Mr. Chambers was moved to Anne Maria Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, in North Augusta, South Carolina, for further treatment. However, Mrs. Chambers continues to try to enforce the living will and do not resuscitate order from Iowa. Mr. Chambers has the right under Iowa law to revoke the living will. He has done so. But Mrs. Chambers continues to have authority over his care in South Carolina as well.

Meanwhile, state officials seem to not want to get in the middle of it.

Read the entire story in the column by Diana Lynne "Patient wants to live, but old 'living will' mandates death." in WorldNetDaily. Click on the link on the right.


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