Patient Kept in Vegetative State to Save Hospital's Reputation
Sun, April 18, 2021

Patient Kept in Vegetative State to Save Hospital's Reputation

 

On September 21, 2018, Darrel Young, 61, underwent a heart transplant surgery at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. Young never woke up after that, instead, he fell into a vegetative state. "Vegetative state" refers to the absence of responsiveness and awareness due to the overwhelming dysfunction of the cerebral hemispheres. However, this is far different from both a coma and brain death. Patients in this state may groan, move, and open their eyes.

 

Photo Credit: flickr

 

Aside from that, patients may also perform involuntary muscle movements and react to loud sounds or feelings of pain. Young’s medical records showed that he would occasionally open his eyes and follow commands. However, he looked very encephalopathic, which means that his brain had been damaged. Most of the time, patients in a vegetative state who survive for more than four weeks are unlikely to recover. Their chances of surviving only worsen after a full year in the state. 

 

Photo Credit: 123RF

 

However, Young was kept alive for nearly a year not because he or his family requested so, but because the hospital wanted him alive. Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture, and history, reported that the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center wanted to maintain the survival rate statistics used to evaluate their heart-transplant program. If Young had died, its heart transplant program survival rate would have dropped to 84.2% — which would have triggered scrutiny by the federal government. 

 

Photo Credit: 123RF

 

The recordings of the meetings with the medical staff and the director of the hospital's heart and lung transplant programs were released. They stated that they were unsure if this was ethical, moral or right. However, it was "for the global good of the future transplant recipients." This was a breach of medical ethics since Young’s family was deprived of the opportunity to decide on the best care option for him.

 

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