Baby Charlie - Who Decides When a Terminally Ill Patient Must Die?

Updated on July 6, 2017

Who decides?

When a terminally ill patient should die

No one’s fooled when the plug is pulled

It’s tragic and cold

Whether young or old

Proclamations of that “better place”

The tears on a mother’s face

Homes left with an empty space

Despite the futility

And little chance of recovery

Hope shines from the moments of stability

Critical care

No longer there

Just a lengthy “wait and see”


From the left and right

Day and night

Let them pass, or watch them fight

In and out of consciousness

Analyzing cognizance

Medical charts have no heart

No soul, no art

A personalized diary called “end of days”

Medical considerations

Experimental medications

Applications and expectations

Reservations and variations

Circling back to a permanent vacation

And that uncomfortable realization

That every crossing has been crossed

Tried them all, ignored the cost

Yet the moment still is lost

Is it time?

Is it a crime?

Who decides?

When a terminally ill patient should die?

Is it you?

Or I?

Questions & Answers


    Submit a Comment

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 9 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      Most emotional and heartfelt. You are right I would rather leave it in God's hands. Still one of the toughest choices in life.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 9 months ago

      I had to face that last summer with my son. It was heartbreaking, but the hospital ask us for a decision. I knew that somewhere tucked away in his paperwork was a living will that we had discussed a few years before. They said he was brain dead and would die within an hour of pulling the plug. He'd made the decision for himself. We allowed them to turn off the machines, and I prayed that he would live in spite of it. They were right. It was two days before his birthday and the anniversary is coming up in six weeks. I can't answer your question, Ralph.

    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 9 months ago from Port Elizabeth

      I think that unless the person is a grownup, and wants to die, nobody has got right to shorten a person's life. I have read about a guy that was in a coma for many years, and one day came out of it. Had his family listened to the doctor, he would have had no chance. With my last pregnancy I was told, after having a scan, that the baby should be removed as she had 'spina bifida,' like a previous pregnancy. I refused and my daughter was born perfect.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 9 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Such an emotive question Ralph. Unless you have faced the situation you may not know the answer. I was in the car driving to my mother's house when I received a call saying she had been found struggling for breath and rushed to hospital. Before I could get to the hospital they were phoning me asking if they should keep her alive on a ventilator or turn it off. Of course I told them to keep her alive. When I arrived she could not speak but had her full faculties and I and the rest of the family were at least able to spend time and converse with her (she could write) for two more days before the doctors convinced us that the respirator should be turned off. It was the saddest time of my life, but my father had passed away just a year earlier and she wanted to be with him. A very well written poem, Ralph.