The last time I saw my father he was standing on his stoop, sweetly smiling and waving goodbye. As we backed out of his driveway one month ago, I thought about how healthy he looked and how grateful I was that my children and I had seen him this way once again.

Had it been up to a hospital nurse 12 months earlier, Dad would have been dead.

If you read my column last week, you know that my father did pass away less than two weeks ago. In my tribute to Dad, I didn’t get to tell you the story of how I would have lost him much earlier. Although difficult, I’ll attempt to do that now. It is important that you know just how vulnerable you and your loved ones are to a system of medical care that is abandoning its promise not to “give advice which may cause death.”

In April of 2001, I received a call from my family in Florida that Dad was dying. I was told that I should get there fast. My husband and children and I quickly made the trip for what we feared would be our final goodbyes.

Dad was in very bad shape. He suffered from severe heart problems, failing kidneys and a damaged liver. From the first moments of arriving at the hospital, a nurse pulled me aside and said I should sign a “do not resuscitate order.” “If his heart stops,” she said, “it would be cruel and painful to try and resuscitate him in his condition.”

I told her in no uncertain terms that I would not sign the order. The nurse also approached my sister with the same intensity. I soon discovered that a family friend had been cornered in the hallway and told she should convince a family member to sign the order.

I vividly remember standing by my father’s bed and telling him, “Dad, the nurse has tried several times to get us to sign an order preventing anyone from helping you if your heart should stop. I told her that we will not sign, that we want you to have all the help you can get.”

I’ll never forget how my father looked up at me with worried eyes as he told me he had been approached three or four times by the staff to sign the order. There he was, heavily medicated at times, vulnerable and trusting that he would be cared for, yet pressured to sign an order he found immoral – an order that would deny him the very care he had gone to the hospital to seek. I was livid. I’ll spare you the details of what was said to the nurse after my conversation with Dad.

My father was released several days later to be with his family. He was expected by the medical staff to die at any moment. But they were wrong. Dad didn’t die that week, or the next, or even the following month.

On two separate occasions, Dad’s heart failed, and a quick response from EMTs got it pumping again. He began making an amazing recovery: His kidney function doubled, his liver returned to a healthy state, and his heart grew strong enough to have a pacemaker implanted that gave him a new lease on life.

Had my father or our family signed the “Living Will” or “Do not resuscitate order,” Dad would not have been around last month to tell his corny jokes to my children, or share stories of his childhood, or to stand on his front stoop and sweetly wave goodbye. Because we were firm in our belief that life is precious, that medical professionals should not withhold basic procedures that can save lives, dad had the opportunity to live.

My father was a physician for nearly 45 years. During his practice, he watched in disbelief as medicine began to change from a “healing art” that focused on “the good of the patient” to a “science” that works for the “good of society.” Although many in the medical community still have healing as their first priority, others have adopted the philosophy that only the fit should survive, that the “professionals” know who is better off dead, that the value of life is determined by someone else’s definition of “quality.”

You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to learn how the euthanasia movement is infiltrating the medical community. A great starting place is the website of The International Task Force on Euthanasia and Suicide.

Final goodbyes are just that – final. I’ll always be grateful that Dad’s didn’t come on someone else’s schedule.

Related column:

Too old – or sick – to live

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