Discussion 2b.1 To Live Or Not To Live

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Coma is a chronic deep state of unconsciousness due to a severe injury (Chapter 4). Prolonged vegetative state (PVC), however, is the absence of awareness as well as responsiveness due to cerebral dysfunction. A Minimally Conscious State (MCS) as opposed to PVC has some degree of awareness (Chapter 4).

In some conditions, it is humane to allow a comatose individual to die. For instance, when one is brain dead, there is no need of keeping such an individual in a life support machine, as recovery is not an expectation (Wallis, 2013). Likewise, an individual who are likely to be comatose for long and the family is unable to offset the accruing hospital bills should also be allowed to die.

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Long-term brain injury has an array of risks including inability to walk and talk as in the case of Sarah Scantlin who was comatose for 20 years after a motor vehicle accident (Leach, 2005; Chapter 5). Moreover, it can cause such psychological effects on the family including post-traumatic stress disorder due to what they undergo daily as they still keep hope of seeing that person come back again to life.

Keeping a comatose patient in a life support machine has some ethical considerations. For instance, when one is artificially alive, they are kept alive by supply of nutrition (Wallis, 2013). However, feeding a dead person is ethically wrong. Likewise, allowing the comatose patients to die is ethically wrong as it can be viewed as murder (Wallis, 2013).

There are several examples of individuals who have been in a state of coma for long and later recover. For instance, Sarah Scantlin recovered from her coma after 20 years. Likewise, George Melendez also remained in a comatose state for a long time after car wreckage (Leach, 2005). Unlike Sarah who was in PVC, George was in MCS (Wallis, 2013).

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  1. Chapter 4. Sensation and Perception
  2. Chapter 5. State of Consciousness
  3. Leach, B., (2005). Woman Details Her 20-Year Coma. CBC News [Motion Picture]. Retrieved        from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/woman-details-her-20-year-coma/
  4. Wallis, C., (2013). Bringing Back the Unconscious: The Latest Science on Awakenings. Time. Retrieved from http://healthland.time.com/2013/11/22/bringing-back-the-unconscious-  the-latest-science-on-awakenings/
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