Friday, May 19, 2006

'Do Not Resuscitate'

Mary Wohlford, a 80-year old great-grandmother, left no doubt when the time has come. She tattooed the words "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" on her chest. She got the idea from 30 years of nursing and the Terri Schivo fiasco last year. She wants to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt what she wants to do if she was like Schivo. She said, "If Terri Schivo had a 'Do Not Resuscitate' tattoo, 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." For Wohlford, her tattoo will prove, hook, line, and sinker, what she wanted. The tattoo, by itself, wouldn't stop a doctor from resuscitating her, but the idea is clear.

The focal point of the situation is missing in all of this: who owns and has control of her body and her life? Anyone with a little common sense will say Wohlford. Wohlford is an adult, and, being in a sound mind, her decision on what she wants to do with her body is paramount. If Wohlford has a tattoo with instructions on what to do with her vegetative body, that instructions must be carried out. But like the doctor said, I don't think a tattoo, by itself, wouldn't stop me from helping her, but that's why she also has a living will. But, says Wohlford, "I don't believe in lawyers too much."

If you have a marked video with her instructions for family or friends to view, that would be plenty. The tattoo shop owner had it right. "Ultimately, it was her decision." And her decision is final.

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