Peace for child’s grieving parents
Re “Organ donor’s death probed,” June 12
As a mother who lost a child, I can only feel a parent’s pain of loss once again reading about the accusation that an anesthesiologist hastened a vegetative child’s death so his organs could be harvested.
There is much crime in the world that deserves dogged pursuit by detectives, but the effort of registered nurse Denise Bertone, a Los Angeles County coroner’s investigator who examines child deaths, is over the line. Her expertise has been ar-esource for many cases and a relief, I’m sure, to many parents. Still, nearly every minute of every day, I wrestle with the feeling of guilt for not having done enough to save my child.
I feel for Cole Hartman’s family and Dr. Judith Brill, the physician whose care of the dying 8-year-old was flagged for investigation by Bertone. No one in their right mind wants to lose a child, and no parent wants
Organ donation after cardiac death versus brain death is a complex issue. Many values are in tension, including making certain the patient is “dead” in order to respect that individual and not to “kill” him or her or hasten death for organ harvesting.
A benefits-burden comparison, informed consent and respect for human dignity are the primary factors in deciding whether to continue or forgo life-sustaining medical treatment. Where there’s a gray area, some may see a way to unfairly manipulate the decision to withdraw treatment to favor a potential organ recipient.
Cole Hartman’s case involving a persistent vegetative state should include consideration of the sanctity of life versus quality of life. Richard Boudreau, MD
Marina del Rey The writer is a bioethicist at Loyola Marymount University.