Die Welt (Germany): we need to learn to understand how the death

One woman earlier this week told on the phone, her father died. He was elderly, suffered from dementia lived in a nursing home, became notorious in the whole of Germany, when there entered a coronavirus and killed many local residents.

According to the woman, her father after the infection was taken to hospital but was soon discharged and sent back to the nursing home. The Director of the clinic with a heavy heart, told them brothers that their father was very ill and weak, and in any case would have lost the fight against coronavirus — even though in the hospital being well looked after and connected it to a ventilator. But, according to the doctor, it only prolonged his suffering. And the family has agreed with these arguments.

They are brothers, according to the woman, ill-thought not knowing that their father’s gone, but something else: they are not allowed on the territory of the nursing home. Throughout Germany to visit these places are strictly prohibited.

So they had to be content with a brief news of the health of the father every day by phone about how he was in quarantine ward, slowly fading away, and almost did not eat nor drink, and his breathing was becoming weaker. But after 14 days they reported that he fell asleep forever.

The children could not get their own representation about the health of his father. They could not hold his hand, support him, tell him something in the end. According to the woman, she took away a very important part of the life of the father — his departure. And she doesn’t understand how to deal with the topic of his death.

The so-called “coronaries” led to an atypical situation: society as never before actively discussing the topic of death, however, not talking seriously about how to leave when strikes the hour.

Instead, the focus was the economic aspect: how many hospital beds and medical ventilators available whose life is more important to save with the use of this technique. In other words, how much time and money is worth a human life.

The mayor of tübingen Boris Palmer (Boris Palmer) who has repeatedly shown his “lateral thinking”, breaking various taboos on Tuesday provoked a public debate, saying that the German hospital to save people, “who after six months still die due to age and chronic diseases.”

The leadership of the German Foundation for the protection of patients, in turn, said that it is unacceptable to frighten such statements for elderly and sick people. The words of Palmer means not that other, as the end of the solidarity of different generations.

With the question of how doctors make decisions about who to connect to a ventilator, and who is not, if Germany really will develop the same situation as in Italy, be sure to understand. But there is another, much more complex issue and our society for many years (that is, long before the outbreak of coronavirus) is dancing around him in the power of the mass of all kinds of fears.

The question is, who and how long to live, suffering from serious diseases. According to the German Foundation for the protection of patients, in recent weeks have received many questions from people looking for help (many of them elderly with chronic diseases). Half of them please do not connect them to the ventilator if they become infected with coronavirus and seriously ill.

For this, obviously, lies the fear that the medical help at any price in the worst case only prolongs the suffering of the patient, and not give him a full life. According to experts, they are looking at the situation in Italy, it is expected that the number of people in case of infection agree to the intensive care unit with a ventilator, will continue to decline.

However, many public health officials believe these assumptions are one-sided and indicate that doctors try as much as possible to save the life of even patients with the most serious diseases, for example, with traumatic brain injuries after an accident.

They do this because it is possible due to the level of development of modern medicine. In addition, many doctors rightly fear criminal liability if they allow seriously ill patients to die using every opportunity to heal.

But the fact that not every life can save modern medicine, is complete. Tens of thousands of saved so of years people exist in a state of “vegetable”, being unconscious, being connected to a ventilator, receiving constant medical support, but with no chance for improvement.

So many patients in critical condition, the years remaining on a ventilator, not least due to financial abuse. Of course, it is tempting to save people, keeping them connected to the ventilator. Now, in times of crisis, this relationship is also actively discussing. One of the most renowned experts in the field of health Economics wasem jürgen (Jürgen Wasem) from the University of Duisburg-Essen recently said in an interview to our edition of that on a ventilator “made a lot of money,” and so many hospitals are looking to purchase medical ventilators.

The longer a patient remains on a ventilator, the more money the insurance company pays. This issue is not only clinics. Ambulatory nursing services also get tens of thousands of euros per month.

Some doctors have long criticized the situation in Germany in this field. First among them is doctor Matthias Buffalo (Matthias Thöns), a specialist in palliative medicine. He is a regular speaker for the disconnection of the old and critically ill patients from the ventilator if they experience suffering and death seems the best alternative. It also acts against the fact that patients underwent operation if it is evident that it will only prolong their suffering.

The Buffalo and personally encountered cases where people who were living just a few months, have had surgery, e.g., cataract. Because he often raises such uncomfortable themes, at TENSA has a problem with “Orthodox” medicine. So, about a year ago he spoke in support of the individual who submitted to the court in doctors for, according to him, several years using equipment supported the life of his father against his own will.

This man came to the Supreme court, demanding compensation for the fact that his father several years have experienced suffering which could have been avoided. However, the court rejected his claim, and, in the opinion of TENSA, this solution became a real human catastrophe — in fact it meant that the decision to live or die, not take his family, and doctors.

For all the apparent cynicism of the remarks of Palmer, representing the green party, in this context it can be interpreted quite differently — as a call often to ask the question of what is man the better at the end of life and what one wants for himself. And if this is exactly what Palmer had in mind, it is absolutely correct.

Now that our society pretends that death does not exist, that we can get rid of death technically. If it would be better if we learned to understand the death, what are the signs that the body and soul of man ready to care. When the person stops eating and drinking when the temperature drops his body when he finally stops breathing.

It is not taught in school, and hardly anyone gets a realistic idea of how the process of the death before you see it on the example of their own loved ones. Such a skill we definitely do not have. And it would be nice if we acquired it — including because then death would cease to seem to us so terrible.