I never, NEVER dreamed that things like this happened today. In Nazi Germany, among Hitler’s very first victims were the infirm in body or mind. He started with them. Today, while I’m sure they would be appalled at being compared to him, doctors still sometimes decide that a person’s life is “not worth living.”
So, since my eyes have been opened, I wanted to share with you an example. Unfortunately, there are many more.
Peter Kellett was six years old when he lost his battle. But it wasn’t Trisomy exactly that took him. It was that his hospital records had “Trisomy” listed as one of his diagnoses. He was allowed to bleed to death … yes, “allowed” is the right word. His mother and others are now fighting to make sure that in Minnesota, hospitals must make public their “futility policies”. YES, hospitals DO HAVE THESE, where THEY decide if it is worth fighting to stay alive. And lest you think that Minnesota is all alone, please know that they are not. It’s just where that particular battle is currently being fought.
The following excerpts from an online newspaper article summarize Peter’s story. The Kellett’s doctor was hardly encouraging when Trisomy 18 was indicated during late pregnancy, advising her that …
… most women choose abortion because there are no survivors beyond two weeks.
The Kelletts didn’t choose abortion. Peter was born in 2005 at 33 weeks and weighed in slightly over three pounds. At his birth, the doctor recommended the Kelletts hold their baby “while he dies,” said Mrs. Kellett. But Peter didn’t die.
“So our daughter went online and learned of some adults with Trisomy 18. She printed out the stories. I showed them to the doctor and asked why he’d lied. He shook his head, and said, ‘We have to think about resources. Peter will never contribute to society and will be a horrible burden to your family.'”
The Kelletts brought Peter home. He learned to do things doctors said he wouldn’t, such as eat by mouth. Doctors said he wouldn’t recognize family members and would live a horrible life, but soon he was the happiest and easiest to raise of all their children. She said, “He was never a burden and was everyone’s favorite. We loved him.”
In 2011, Kelletts had Peter admitted to a Minneapolis hospital for doctors to remove an appendix. “We thought everything went fine (in the operation), but the next day he died,” she said. “Throughout that day, we had been concerned about him bleeding internally.”
The doctor said infection from appendicitis had strained Peter’s heart to cause death. But the Kelletts weren’t believing him. They ordered an independent autopsy, which found no infection. Peter had internally bled to death.”
In a followup article by the same journalist, Daniel Vance, the Kelletts tell of discovering a horrifying reality:
… many hospitals have futility of care policies. She said, “A futility of care policy means that if (the hospital doctor) believes in his opinion care is futile (i.e., won’t result in improvement), he doesn’t have to offer care or treat the child. We then learned the hospital he died in had a futility of care policy, but hadn’t publicly shared it.”
Peter’s mother is further quoted in the article:
“All throughout Peter’s life, from the beginning, the only help it seemed we got (from the medical profession) was to help him die. There was a huge difference between the way doctors treated Peter and the way they treated our other kids. It was like they couldn’t see the value of his life. The doctor (at his birth) said Peter would never contribute to society. My argument has been that people with disabilities contribute to society in the most important way. They help us become better people. I call them ‘teachers of our souls.'” She added that “parents had the right to know these policies existed. I have a feeling what’s behind these futility of care policies is saving money. There’s a lot of passive euthanasia going on, especially involving kids with disabilities. We’re still devastated over how Peter died.”
I love in the article when she challenges the doctors who say that Peter’s life has no meaning. She points out that children like Peter are “teachers of our souls.” In our world today, where so many souls seem lost, could it be that these children are the most valuable teachers we have?
Please, don’t close your eyes to this. Don’t think that it doesn’t involve you. It does. When someone decides that a life has no meaning, it touches everyone. Spread the word. Trisomy happens. That is not the tragedy. That there are those who think it makes a life unworthy, that is the tragedy.
which she created in honor of her daughter Maisie.