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The dilemma of choice

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In her final blog as learning disability student nurse editor, Olivia Lindsay-Gould looks into the ethical issue of the choice of life, and the right to die.

I decided to write about this due to the now-global news story around Charlie Gard and his parents’ fight for his life.

To my understanding, as per the news reports, Charlie had a life-limiting disease which caused him to have profound and multiple disabilities. Naturally, Charlie’s parents wished to try all avenues to help their son live a happy life.

The dilemma that the medical team surrounding both Charlie and his parents were faced with was that they could not provide this care.

So, the big question that only we can answer for ourselves based on our own moral and ethical stature, is whether it was right to allow Charlie to die without attempting all methods of care, albeit experimental.

Many people with profound and multiple learning disabilities have fulfilling lives, facilitated by modern medicine and technologically, but where do we draw the line at keeping people alive when their bodies, without modern medicine and technology, would not sustain life?

My opinion sits with the doctors, and I imagine most people who work within healthcare would agree, I believe this is because we see the alternative, we see people at the worst and in their last moments, times when unfortunately people suffer and I will always say “I hope no one I love goes through this.”

However, I am not a parent and have never been put in the same situation therefore I couldn’t possibly say how I would react if this was the case.

The most important thing that we can take from this story is that everyone involved did what they believed was right and best for Charlie at the time.

It’s writing about stories like this that is what has made my year as student editor so rewarding and enlightening. It has been an honour to advocate for LD nursing and to delve deeper into issues that my otherwise have passed me by.

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