Human Exceptionalism

Alliance Defense Fund Stops Another Dehydration!

There is an old Jewish saying: “If you save a life, you’ve saved the world.”  If that is true, the Alliance Defense Fund has saved many worlds, preventing profoundly cognitively disabled people from being intentionally dehydrated to death by having tube-supplied sustenance removed.  For example, there was the case of Jesse Ramirez, whose wife and doctors wanted him dehydrated after an auto accident.  The ADF fought on behalf of other family members.  He not only awakened, but eventually left the hospital on his own two feet and attended an event where I was speaking in order to shake my hand because I had written in his defense! It was a very moving moment.

The ADF is at it again, at least temporarily saving the life of a man who was temporarily unconscious from a heart attack.  From the ADF press release:

A 55-year-old Maryland man who became temporarily unconscious after suffering a heart attack and a seizure has been saved from being starved to death after an ADF-allied attorney obtained an order in state court on behalf of the man’s mother and brother. The man, Daniel Sanger, is now responding to hospital staff after going six days without food and water. Although Sanger told his doctor and his mother “I want to live” before he went unconscious, Frederick Memorial Hospital removed the public-assistance patient from life-giving food, water, and nutrients on Friday with the permission of his wife.

“Everyone deserves a chance to recover,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “There is no question that Daniel expressly stated his desire to live, and yet he was denied the food and water he needed to survive. His wishes should have been followed. ADF sees far too many situations involving hasty decisions to pull the plug on a human life.”

“The court has done the right thing in granting our request to have Daniel’s food and hydration restored,” said Sanger’s legal counsel Daniel Cox, one of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “We are asking the court to award temporary decision-making authority to Daniel’s mother and brother.”

We don’t know how the case will turn out ultimately, of course. And this is a one-sided view of the facts.  But the point is that without the ADF, people who want to protect their loved ones from dehydration would have few resources with which to fight, much less prevail.

In the larger picture, it continues to amaze me how often often becomes the default setting over life when people experience a serious cognitive insult.  I am so proud of the ADF for standing in the breach and saving people from slowly dehydrating–deaths that would be rightfully considered torture if done to a dog or a horse, and would land one in the Hague if imposed on a captured international terrorist leader.


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