Ariel Sharon: Eight Years in a Coma

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by vrDrew, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
    There has been considerable news coverage of the "worsening" health condition of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

    I was utterly amazed to discover the fact that he had been in a coma for more than eight years, since undergoing surgery in January of 2006.

    I have no ill-will towards Mr Sharon, or indeed anyone in his condition.

    But seriously, someone who has been in a coma for most of a decade isn't really "alive", and frankly I would look upon dying at that point as being a blessed relief. He may not technically have been "brain dead" - but he certainly doesn't meet my definition of being "alive."

    PS: I'd really prefer if discussion stayed away from Sharon's position as Israel's PM, and Middle East politics in general. Mainly interested in how people feel about long-term comas, etc.
  2. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Comas are a tricky matter considering various reasons for a person to enter into one. I think in the case of someone at his age, it would be reasonable to undo life support. There are cases where people have been in comas for years and suddenly return to the living as it were. Given that it is a family matter, I suppose the family (a concerned one) would know best.
  3. ManhattanBeach macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2013
    That's a tough situation though considering his power and influence over the state of Israel... kind of like how the kept Mandela going as long as they possibly could.
  4. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
    I'm sorry, but I just don't understand that way of thinking.

    Would, for example, the USA have been somehow "better off" if, instead of dying after being shot in Dallas, JFK lived out the remained of his Presidency in a vegetative coma? Would his family, wife, friends, children, etc. have been "happier" if they'd watched his lifeless body, hooked up to beeping machines, for several years before he finally expired (or, more accurately, for the machines to no longer give a convincing show that he was, in any way, "alive.")

    The Mandela thing appalled me. What did they think was going to happen? Nelson Mandela dies and suddenly South Africa dissolves into race war?

    Modern medicine has pretty good protocols to deal with people in Comas. And someone scoring 3 or 4 on the Glasgow Scale isn't coming back - ever. Keeping someone alive for any reason other than their own comfort and recovery is abject cruelty.
  5. macs4nw macrumors 601


    It's not cruelty unless the person in a coma is actually suffering. Their awareness level is so low as to practically preclude that possibility. Sadly, medicine is not black & white science, and without judging whether this is right or wrong, relatives do this out of sheer hope for a miracle, as they do occasionally happen.

    Without ever having been in that situation, I'm not sure any of us could know for sure what we would do if faced with such a scenario.
  6. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Ethical dilemmas with things like comas or brain damage have been debated for generations; it's unlikely we'll iron things out today!

    I suppose I should chuck in my opinion about the subject. Comas are dangerous and can be long-term, but as another poster mentioned, they're not actively damaging to people. In my view, the ethical boundaries really become blurred when people are either:

    A) mind is completely frazzled but body works fine (I've made it perfectly clear in my will that if this happens, please kill me)
    B) body is completely frazzled but mind works fine (if this was the case for me, I'd blink out 'kill me' and make sure they do it).

    A coma is pretty much a deep sleep so isn't the worst one you can have. Imagine going to sleep one day, and waking up with a doctor leering over you. "Welcome to 2030", he booms.

    I know what all our first questions would be. "Can I see the new iPhone model?" ;)

    But seriously, that's where I stand on the subject. Yes, it's debatable, but ultimately nobody suffers when keeping coma patients alive.
  7. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    MOD NOTE: This topic belongs in PRSI.

    If it could have been kept about the medical issues alone it might have been acceptable. As is, politics and speculation keeps coming into it.

  8. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Any discussion about the deteriorating condition of Ariel Sharon, and resultant ethical and medical dilemmas about what - perhaps - ought to be done, are very difficult to contemplate without taking the - often controversial - historical and political role he played in Israel in recent decades into account.

    Thus, the debate becomes, not 'how long is it appropriate to keep an elderly man who has been in a coma for over eight years alive by means of modern medical technology?' but rather, taking such a decision may be interpreted as an attack or an assault on certain choices made in recent Israeli politics, and thus, by default, an attack on the values of the very state itself.

    On the original question asked by the OP, I have little doubt that if Mr Sharon was a private citizen, living out his life in such conditions, with little of the drama or notoriety that his life has actually entailed, that a decision might well have been taken on this issue, quietly, some time ago. Indeed, given who Mr Sharon is, the positions he held, (including holding the office of Prime Minister at the time of his incapacitating stroke), I would be surprised if the power to take such a decision may lie solely in the hands of his doubtless suffering family.
  9. 0007776 Suspended


    Jul 11, 2006
    And he has died now.

    I'm not going to comment on my opinion of his politics, but as for him being kept in a coma for all this time I hope he wasn't aware of his suffering during that and he probably should have been allowed to die sooner.
  10. iJohnHenry macrumors P6


    Mar 22, 2008
    On tenterhooks
    "He", what was uniquely him, probably died 8 years ago, and his body just caught-up.

    If he had no brain-wave activity, and the family is paying the freight, I see no problem with keeping his body around.

    Otherwise .....
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Fair point and quite likely true.

    Have just read that he has actually died, and the obituaries are now appearing in various news outlets.

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