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Great grandma's tattoo: 'Do Not Resuscitate'

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 05/18/2006 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

A great grandmother wants to make it absolutely clear where she stands should she ever become incapacitated.

Thus, at age 80, Mary Wohlford of Decorah, Iowa, has had the phrase “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” tattooed on her chest.


80-year-old Mary Wohlford of Iowa had “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” tattooed on her chest to express her final wishes (courtesy Des Moines Register)

“People might think I’m crazy, but that’s OK,” Wohlford told the Des Moines Register. “Sometimes the nuttiest ideas are the most advanced.”

It’s not that the retired nurse is about to have other people decide her ultimate fate. In fact, she still mows her own yard, cleans her own swimming pool, and cares part-time for two other women. She even spent three weeks in Louisiana last October working with the American Red Cross to help Hurricane Katrina victims.

But her decision to have the message inked on the front of her body in February was a direct result of what she saw in the life and death struggle over Terri Schiavo, the brain-injured Florida woman who was starved to death by court order after a lengthy legal battle.

If Terri Schiavo had a “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoo, Wohlford said, “then her husband could have said, ‘See, it’s right here. This is what she wanted.’ But she verbalized it, so they had this big rigmarole.”

While she admits some might find her tattoo amusing, she says her motive is serious, hoping people consider what might happen if their personal wishes on living or dying are not clear.

“This is a modern day and age,” she said. “You have to advance with the times. We never even had a living will 20 years ago. Now I think we’ve got to go to the next step.”

In addition to the placard on her chest, Wohlford has a more binding document in a prominent place. She has signed a living will and has hung it on the side of her refrigerator.

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