Saturday, March 23, 2013

Death by Dehydration and Starvation


Click here to view original letter.

My mother, Sharon Moe, was diagnosed with colon cancer in February of this year. After her surgery, I was told that she may be able to live for 6 months to 2 years. My mother was against assisted suicide and euthanasia and wanted to live as long as possible. She was placed back in the care of the nursing facility where hospice started to care for her. She was placed on a continual feed through a feeding tube because she was unable to take in anything orally due to her medical condition.

From the beginning, hospice wanted to stop the continual feed. My mother was adamant that she wanted to live and told the hospice nurse that she wanted to stay on the continual feed. My mother was able to converse and sit upright within a day or so after being taken back to the nursing facility. Her health was improving and she was doing really well after surgery despite the fact that she was underweight from not being able to eat.

The hospice nurse was still wanting to remove the continual feeding, even though my mother was doing well. My mother was able to tolerate the food and was not aspirating from it. The nurse placed a pain patch on my mother even though she wasn't in pain. They didnt ask her if she was in pain--they just administered the pain patch because she had a 'furrowed brow'. This pain patch caused my mother to hallucinate and be in a semi-comatose state. She was talkative and looking better before the patch was administered. After the patch had been in her system overnight, she started seeing things and was very scared.

My mother did not get the chance to live on longer as she had willed, but her death was hastened by dehydration and starvation after removing the continual feeding. My mother was not experiencing any pain and would tell someone if she had it....

Mike Moe, Great Falls Montana

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Doctor Effectively Euthanized Against his Will

James Mungas MD
For published version, click here.

My husband, Dr. James E. Mungas, was a respected physician and surgeon here in Great Falls. He developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and I took care of him. His mind was clear and thought processes unimpaired. He was against assisted suicide and euthanasia.

I needed to travel out of town for a day and a half. We agreed he would stay at a local care facility in my absence. Once there, nurses began administering morphine. After the first dose, my husband knew that he had been overdosed and typed out a message to call respiratory therapy. None came that day. Over the next few days, he struggled to breathe and desperately struggled to remain conscious to communicate, but the nurses kept pushing the morphine button and advised our children to do the same. My children and I did not understand the extent morphine would repress the respiratory system until later.  This was neither palliative care nor managing pain; this was hastening death. He was effectively euthanized against his will. He did not get his choice. It is traumatic, still, to realize his last communications were attempts to get help....

— Carol Mungas,
Great Falls, Montana