Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Euthanasia For Infants

Politickal Animal is covering the Euthanasia for Infants story that has great links that will tear your heart out. Go over and learn about this issue and follow the links. This is just too far out there to know where to begin on this one.

I have rounded in Neonatal Intensive Care Units and assisted in the care of the very babies that they are referring to in these news stories. I must admit I have seen infants in horrible conditions that only one outcome was possible...but all things should come in God's time. We should not second guess what God's plan is and I can assure you, there is no reason for a child or infant to be in unbearable pain. I know first hand there is no supply problems with narcotics for pain control. Routinely we administer drugs such as fentanyl, morphine, or even methadone to neonates to control their pain. Most of these kids are already on ventilators, so respiratory depression is not really an issue, especially for known terminal conditions.

One particular case that comes to mind was a baby that was diagnosed in-utero as anephric (totally lacking kidneys). This condition is not usually compatible with life. Most babies with this condition in the U.S. are born and simply left with their mothers to pass away. As a mother of 2 beautiful boys, I can only imagine how precious this time would be between a mother and the baby that she carried to term...only a few moments to hold your baby and look in their eyes, to then say good-bye. Precious, painful, but worth every second.

The reason these babies can not survive is that due to their lack of kidneys, and therefore lack of in-utero urine production, they do not develop their lungs properly. It is the urine production in-utero that is ultimately the source of amniotic fluid for the baby, from there it is the in-utero inhalation of the amniotic fluid that is required for proper lung development. Therefore, no kidneys=no lung development. There are many things that can be fixed by medical science but there is no treatment or replacement for lack of lungs.

The particular case that I was referring to earlier was a surprise to everyone. The baby had very small kidneys that made just enough urine that he ended up having proper lung development. No one expected this before his birth. This baby was a challenge due to other complications, but he eventually ended up with a dialysis catheter in place and at one year of age he will receive a kidney transplant and will hopefully have a full life ahead of him. Will he have problems? Probably. Who are we to say he doesn't deserve a full chance at life to make the most of his life and the challenges ahead of him? Who may he influence on this earth that may alter one or many lives in ways we can only imagine.

Somethings are just larger than we are, and we should do our best to fight for life and treat all conditions with every gun in our arsenal, God will take care of the rest.