T Nation

Decision to End a Life in City of Woe

Here’s another story of people in New Orleans having to do things they thought they would never have to do. Heart wrenching, sad, a little pathetic, definitely a tough decision. My sympathies go out to this man and the doctors called to perform.


Decision to end a life in city of woe

ARRIVING in New Orleans last Sunday, I have spent a week reporting the unfolding misery and ruined lives in the aftermath of the hurricane.

But nothing, in the plethora of grim tales of disaster, compares with a terrible incident recounted to me as the week drew to a close. There was a 380-pound man stranded on the seventh floor of a New Orleans hospital. Unable to get him down five flights of stairs to the second-floor exit, through which other patients were being evacuated onto rescue boats to escape the rising floodwater, a female manager took a shocking decision. She ordered that he be given euthanasia.

A bearded, middle-aged doctor, who is still wearing his green hospital garb, tells me the sad story as he and his colleagues sit at the muddy, squalid refugee-receiving post on New Orleans’ I10 Highway. He does not want to give me his name and will not identify the patient out of respect.

But he wants people to know what happened in there. His lower jaw quivers as he recalls the events of Wednesday night.

“We had minutes to get out, and I asked, 'What are we going to do about this guy, because he’s a big man. It was going to be tough getting him down those stairs - the elevators weren’t working. That woman turned to me and said straight out, ‘We’re going to help him to heaven’. It makes me want to break down, how that man’s life was taken away.”

It is one of so many gruesome and desperate stories that have poured forth from the tens of thousands of refugees.

I don’t really mean to be snide, but at 380 lbs … he really should have noticed it when he couldn’t walk down some stairs.

Perhaps it’s just the fact that everytime I swim, some old 250lb lady bitches at me for causing her unable to trend water (even with a bloody bubble.)

My dad is 380 lbs and I think it would kill me to know that happened to him.

I can only hope the guy was on a ventilator and in severely poor health.

What a decision for the doctors to have to make. They must be totally distressed over that.