I rarely get “political” on this blog, though we all know I am DEFINITELY not, nor do I care about being, “politically correct”. My faith in Christ is no secret and while I don’t run around beating people over the head with it, I hope I live and write in such a way that it is obvious where my hope lies and by Whose standards I measure my choices and beliefs.
This afternoon my heart is heavy and I find myself swinging between crushing sadness and disbelief to outright anger. I take for granted, most days, the relative good health of our family. We certainly have our challenges in the health arena, but nothing that has prevented us from finding or providing the care our children need, when it’s called for. I also take for granted that “the powers that be” who have been given the great gift of skill and talent to heal and the responsibility for that care, for the most part, recognize that it IS a gift; and that their responsibility and calling is limited to providing the best possible health treatment available to them, NOT determining who is valuable enough to receive it. That we have devolved, in the United States of America, to a level that such an attitude is not immediately crushed out of existence is appalling. People are not God. No mere person has the right to decide whose life has enough value to continue.
This story came to my attention this morning, as I read a fellow blogger’s post and I am compelled to share it, because it is an issue that is bigger than any of us and that any one of us could face, in the future, should we allow it to go unchallenged. Today, in Philadelphia, (the City of Brotherly Love), a young girl lies in need of a kidney transplant. By the grace of God a matching donor is available and ready for surgery, immediately. The girl’s name is Amelia and the donor is a member of her own family. That’s correct. This family is not asking to remove an organ from the donor list. They are supplying one, themselves. All that is needed is a team to conduct the surgery and a place for it to happen and for her to recover. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has the means to provide both, but in their great wisdom, has determined that Amelia’s “quality of life” does not meet their standard of valuable enough to live, because Amelia is cognitively impaired. A person they deem to be “mentally retarded” is not entitled to the life-sustaining care that others can expect at CHOP, because they have a “lesser quality of life”. By what power or authority do they believe they are allowed to determine such a thing? Outrageous!
What is a “lesser quality of life”? I have family members who suffer from both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. It has literally ravaged both sides of my family for decades. Theirs would not be considered a “normal” life by medical standards. Do they deserve to live? My youngest sister has multiple sclerosis and spends most of her life immobile, needing help with almost every function of life we so blindly take for granted. Her life would likely not meet the heartless and ruthless standards of “quality”, established by this “institution of healing”, yet I can tell you emphatically that her life has value beyond what those of us without “diminished capacity” will likely ever understand. There are people in my family and in my church who have suffered from illnesses that have left them developmentally disabled, unable to walk for a time and unable to feed themselves without assistance. Do they deserve to live? There are those in this nation who live well below the poverty level, who struggle to see that their family receives even one meal a day. They don’t have homes to go to. What is their “quality of life”? Quality of life is not determined by an arbitrary list of man-made physical circumstances or standards! Where would we draw the line? Would you and your family be safe tomorrow? “Quality of life” is determined by the One who gave it, who lovingly created it and has purpose for each one. In our arrogant, close-minded and superficial way of thinking, we cannot even begin to grasp the joy and happiness that sweet Amelia brings to the world, what she teaches those around her or the happiness that those people bring to her. Her “purpose” doesn’t fit into the neat little man-created package of what has value. Oh, if only we could see Amelia and her value through the eyes of the Magnificent One who created her! What we would understand and see then, would drive us to our knees. At least I hope it would. I pray it will.
What can you do? Add your name to this petition to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, asking them to provide the surgery that Amelia needs to receive her family member’s kidney. Pray for her and her family and those who have decision-making power in this situation. Read her mother’s story, and stop for one moment to think of the people you know, the people you love and if they will someday meet man’s arbitrary standard of “quality of life”. Who will speak for THEM?