Kaufman Interfaith Institute

When is the right time to halt life-prolonging medical treatments?

Date: June 3, 2014

When is the right time to halt life-prolonging medical treatments?

Ethics and Religion Talk

By Rabbi David Krishef

I sit on the Spectrum Health Bioethics committee here in Grand Rapids. Rarely a month goes by when I am not astonished by some new cutting edge procedure which promises to improve the quality of life of people suffering with severe medical conditions. At the same time, we recognize that eventually, medical 'miracles' come to an end.

Our question this week is from Barb, who writes:

"I have a very dear friend who has had kidney disease for many years, culminating in many days a week on dialysis. He’s suffered so much. Within the past few months he was able to be the recipient of a new kidney, by transplant. His health has been better but he’s been warned that at some point he may have to go back on dialysis. Because of all that he remembers of his previous dialysis; he’s not desiring to go through it again.

My question is this: rather than have dialysis again, he’d rather forego the treatment and opt for hospice and pass away. Other people have been telling him that that’s not right, he needs to continue to do everything he can to stay alive at any cost. He’s a Christian and knows that Heaven will be his home. Can you tell us what the Bible has to say about this situation?"


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