Dr. Donald Low's Sensible Plea

Dr. Donald Low's Sensible PleaDr. Donald Low, chief microbiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital for more than 25 years, passed away last week. Brain cancer took him at the age of 68.

8 days before he passed, he recorded this most sensible plea for the legalization of assisted suicide. He just wanted to die with dignity.

It's such a sensible plea and so humane. I personally want the option to die with dignity. It's time we stop treating our pets better than our loved ones.


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Speysidephil

Dr. Low just became my hero.
If you have seen suffering you know exactly where he is coming from.
Way to go Dr. Low. RIP

September 25, 2013 @ 9:24 AM

Lynne

Dr. Low has been my hero since SARS. Even in death he is educating us. I hope someday the CMA and our governments take heed.

September 25, 2013 @ 9:30 AM

Mississauga Phil

So true....how is it more humane to make someone live with pain and suffering? This is not suicide, it's release.

September 25, 2013 @ 9:30 AM

Argie

Its obvious those commenting here have to be educated. I'm not doctor but I am aware that there are pain relief meds that can be given to suffering patients. There's nothing dignified about someone pulling a plug or proactively killing another person.

The problem with assisted suicide it opens the door to a terrible place.

September 25, 2013 @ 9:37 AM

Cambo

Problem is, most politicians are too chicken-shit to take this on and do the right thing.

Then there's always the religious zealots who will suggest this is wrong- until it's their turn.

And forcing a man to live with a terminal disease is right?

We're more humane to our animals, than we are to ourselves.

September 25, 2013 @ 9:41 AM


Speysidephil

@Argie
No need for any education here Argie, we have all seen the suffering first hand, and no the pain killers dont always kill the pain, you may think so but the patient goes into another realm but is still in pain.
As Cambo said we are more humane to animals.

September 25, 2013 @ 9:59 AM

Cambo

@Argie.

Educated??? Twit. Hopefully you'll never have to endure what he and so many others are forced to.

It's not about pain.

It's about losing your basic functions, not being able to take yourself to the washroom, not being able to feed yourself, not being able to even swallow, breath properly or talk. Not being able to see because you can no longer open your eyes (as in Dr.Low's situation). It's not about pain.

You really want your family and loved ones to see you in this state? Or would you rather they have happy memories of you.

Your solution is to pump people full of anti-pain medicine until their basic functions no longer function???

Opening the door to a "terrible place"?? Grow up. Those living with these diseases are already in a terrible place.

September 25, 2013 @ 9:59 AM

Argie

@ Speyside
I hope you never have to feel pain again, I really do. No one should - not even Irvine : ).

I just can't jump on board on this whole assisted suicide thing. Its just not right.

September 25, 2013 @ 10:04 AM

Cambo

Margaret Somerville is a staunch catholic- without announcing it. She's also anti-abortion and anti-same sex marriage.

September 25, 2013 @ 10:07 AM

Argie

@ Cambo
Thanks for that. I was wondering when the name calling would begin. It didn't take long did it?

September 25, 2013 @ 10:09 AM

Anonymous

"I just can't jump on board on this whole assisted suicide thing. Its just not right."

As Dr.Low said. You'll never know unless you live 24 hours in his body. I'm quite sure your opinion would change, and quickly. It's always easier to object when you haven't experienced it.

Pain can be managed. It's all the other complications that can't be.

September 25, 2013 @ 10:09 AM

Jenny

My husband passed away almost 10 years ago from a malignant brain tumour. It's a horrible disease. He was 54 years old. He went from a golfing 8 days a week (if I would let him :)) kind of guy to sitting on the couch. He lived 16 months after the diagnosis---the last 4 weeks in the hospital as the Sudbury hospice had not opened yet. We were very fortunate that he had minimal pain, but he had lost control over other functions. If his mind had been fully functional I don't think he would have wanted to live those last few weeks. It was very difficult watching him slip away.

September 25, 2013 @ 10:27 AM

Speysidephil

@Jenny
My condolences Jenny, my wife passed away a year ago yesterday from cancer and had all the symptons you talk about but she had the pain.
It's rather ironic to see Dr. low's video yesterday.

September 25, 2013 @ 10:32 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Jenny

I'm so sorry... nobody deserves to go that way.

September 25, 2013 @ 10:36 AM

Mississauga Phil

@ Argie - I get what you're saying about it opening a door..I really do. Who makes the determination of when the 'right to die" kicks in. But, that doesn't mean we don't need to find a way to sort all of this out....people in that position should have the option of not being in it. And the rest of us have no right to tell someone else that they should have to suffer through it.

Much like with the abortion debate Argie - who are you to tell someone else what to do with their bodies. Walk a mile brother....

@ Jenny & Speyside- I have no words...to watch the person you love most go through that...I can't even imagine.

September 25, 2013 @ 10:47 AM

Argie

Can't we work on another solution other than killing someone?

I'm not being glib here, I just believe there has to be better way and perhaps that day will come soon, that we can help these patients and their families cope with these horrific conditions. That's where our resources should be spent.

As with the abortion and gay "marriage" debate, most people only look at the issue as to how it effects them and not the big picture.

Anyway, I'm off to a meeting. Enjoy!

September 25, 2013 @ 10:58 AM

Cambo

@Argie

However, as of today- we are not at that point. Researchers have been "working on a solution" for 50 years and have yet to come to a single cure. We have gotten much better, but far from the end.

I don't think you can paint it as "killing someone". We choose to "pull the plug" with life support machines. Is that "killing someone"?

The patient is going to die. There are no questions surrounding that. In those cases, it's not a matter of "if", it's a matter of when- and how. Patients in those circumstances have already prepared themselves for the fact that they will die. What they cannot prepare for, is how- and the process to get there. It is a horrible, horrible path. One that we cannot sit idly by and watch as their life slips away.

The better way, is to allow them the choice to terminate their life BEFORE they get to that degrading point. Difficult? Absolutely. But in my mind, it's much worse to sit helplessly and watch them suffer because you consider it "killing".

September 25, 2013 @ 11:11 AM

Al

My only addition to this debate—as I agree with most of the commenters here but don't want to further pile on Argie cause he's in his right to feel the way he does—is this:

Aren't we already playing "god" with all the medical intervention that exists now. Humans now live longer than they ever have before.

So what if we took the advanced medicine away? People would die sooner and of lesser causes. You can't have it both ways.

You either let people live and die naturally, in which case, I'm well beyond being an old man at 38, or we accept that modern medicine has helped extend our lives, but also allow for those who do not wish them to be further extended.

September 25, 2013 @ 11:51 AM

Gary

Argie is right. We can't even agree on subways or LRT's or whatever and we want to put the power where to draw the line where assisted suicide is warranted in other peoples hands?? It is a terrible can of worms to open.

September 25, 2013 @ 12:49 PM

Cambo

So, let's just do nothing and continue to allow people to suffer because we don't want to "open a can of worms".

September 25, 2013 @ 1:53 PM

Ben Vidal

@ Argie: It's not killing a person. If there wasn't breathing tubes, blood circulators, pain killers and drugs that induce comma's, and a cornucopia of other medical advancements most people suffering these terrible diseases would have died long before. There is a big difference between a cure and keeping someone alive on the basis of what? The belief that it's wrong to believe they should stop suffering?

September 25, 2013 @ 1:59 PM

Ben Vidal

Dam should have read AI's comment. Same as what I said.....

September 25, 2013 @ 2:00 PM

Icarus


Argie:

You're a fine one to talk about name calling seeing as you called me an anti-semite a few posts back!

Your hypocrisy is breathtaking.

September 25, 2013 @ 2:19 PM

Argie

@ Ben
You're right, "killing" would be the wrong word in the case of the doctor. However, in some cases there aren't pain killers, breathing tubes, etc yet the person and/or his family want to off him.

September 25, 2013 @ 2:19 PM

Argie

@ Icarus
I shouldn't bother responding to you but the reason I called you that was due to your posting at the time. I really don't care if you're one or not.

Of course it was also a flurry of insults from you so instead of spending your energy attacking me why don't you add something to the debate? I realize that might take a some brain matter but I'm sure in its you.

September 25, 2013 @ 2:32 PM

Icarus


A doctor with a track record of professionalism and courage has spoken on the subject of assisted suicide. As a doctor, he can objectively estimate what his condition will be like just before death and as a human with dignity he can say that there should be a better option.

I can't think of a better position of authority to make a meaningful statement on this subject. The facts of the debate are known, the process of validating and verifying the process of assisted suicide is ethical has been shown to work.

A debate has already taken place, its time for action and decision-making and dignity for end of life care.

I see no reason why I should debate this with someone who thinks that end of life dignity is a 'door to a terrible place'. You and your ilks comfort with this subject is of zero consequence to me. If you are uncomfortable with difficult subjects stay away and leave them to adults.

Its better to say nothing and be thought an idiot than to speak and remove all doubt. You should take this advice to heart.

September 25, 2013 @ 4:34 PM

CQ

Living Wills need to be respected. There is an example currently (or fairly recently) in B.C. A hospital nurse had made her living will, signed by witnesses, etc. with very exacting conditions. As she herself aged, she fell to such an illness. Now she is a completely unresponsive 'unit' being forceably kept alive with the usage of healthcare machinery.
The anti-assisted suicide response is too often Overtly Religious in its generalized argument. This needs to be a personal determination issue.

September 25, 2013 @ 5:47 PM

Corey

It still strikes me as baffling - our society has decided we can kill unborn children, we want to be able to kill suffering people, yet we want to ensure the most vile, dispicable criminals live. Bizarre.

September 25, 2013 @ 5:50 PM

Too Much

A very difficult topic. I have some sympathy for Argie's point about opening a can of worms but man, those of us who have gone through watching a terminal friend/relative die dearly wish that we could've ended their pain weeks (months?) earlier. Perhaps this affects our perspective - we can only see assisted suicide/early release as a good thing that would only happen in 'sure' circumstances. I will say that nurses get it - when my best friend was nearing her end, the nurse told me to keep pumping the morphine "as often as you feel it's necessary". Only after did I realize that we essentially were hastening her death. But when you've listened to someone crying "when will this end" amazingly you don't have any guilt.

September 25, 2013 @ 8:05 PM

Argie

@ Icarus
Your post just drips with arrogance its overwhelming. You also fail to credit Twain with that last paragraph (a real zinger if you ask me). You're a laughable troll in need of a life.

Even though he should, Mike wont ban you - he needs all of the useful idiots he can get for this blog.

Oh and you also fail to present an valid argument. Once again your arrogance has got in the way of reason.

September 25, 2013 @ 8:33 PM

Mississauga Phil

@ Argie - While I understand your point, Icarus was pretty eloquent in expressing his views in the last statement. Prehaps he could have done without the idiot part, but the rest was pretty spot on.

@ Corey - I agree, however, the anti-death penalty folks will always make the very valid point of Guy Paul Morin. At the time everyone was certain he was guilty....he was not, and there's no taking back a needle in the arm. I fall in the middle on this one, on the one hand, It kills me that my tax dollars go to keeping a piece of filth like Paul Bernardo safe and alive, but if we kill even one innocent person by mistake.....

September 26, 2013 @ 8:14 AM

Jenny

@Speysidephil
I am so sorry. For all the millions thrown at research you would think they would have a cure by now.
I hope you have a good support system to help you through this time.

Mike---thank you.

September 26, 2013 @ 8:16 AM

Argie

@ Phil
Funnily enough, the word "idiot" wasn't his. That was from Mark Twain's famous quote Icy claimed as his own. Sorry, he's a tool.

September 26, 2013 @ 9:18 AM

james

My Brother passed away December 28th 2011 from lung cancer. He not only in quite a bit of pain the last few weeks but was progressively unable to talk and communicate and more than a little disconnected from reality. He begged a friend to make it stop in one of his very last lucid moments.

No one who has ever seen that could ever dismiss assisted suicide out of hand.

Unless they were a sociopath incapable of compassion.

September 26, 2013 @ 9:31 AM

Ben Vidal

@ James: EXACTLY!

September 26, 2013 @ 9:41 AM

Icarus


James and Jenny - sorry to hear.

Anyone who has gone through the experience of tending to a dying loved one has my respect.

September 26, 2013 @ 10:09 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@james

I'm so sorry your brother had to endure that... and that his loved ones had to endure that...

September 26, 2013 @ 10:12 AM

Mississauga Phil

@ Argie- I know it was Mark Twain...Mr. Boon had a post revolve around that quote a few weeks ago.

@ James - Again...wow. I couldn't even imagine. I am extremely grateful that I haven't had to watch someone go through that.

September 26, 2013 @ 11:02 AM

annonymous

In the case where someone is not going to get better, and the body is wracked with pain it would seem humane to let that person end their life then, rather than 8 days later. If you have been a dignified and private person when in life, then you should be allowed to die this way too. Doctors know when the end is near and they tell you directly that this is the end. At this point assisted suicide should be made possible.

September 26, 2013 @ 11:08 AM

Argie

OK, this has nothing to with euthanasia but Rob Ford's approval rating is up! He's at 49%!!!

I just had to post it somewhere.

September 26, 2013 @ 11:39 AM

Ben Vidal

I will be posting this again tomorrow with further comment, but it's going to be a terrible day for climate change nay sayers. The IPCC is going to release a report saying that with almost 95% certainty climate change is man made or attributed to man's activities. Get ready for Argie and all the right wing people to denounce these professionals. Why? Because right wingers know in their gut that this isn't true, especially because we had a cool summer. There is no way man has anything to do with it.

I also expect the bible belt in the US to be the loudest critics.

September 26, 2013 @ 11:55 AM

Argie

@ Ben
I guess its just damage control from the "sky is falling crowd."

I'm sure you're aware of the fact projected temps now have to be adjusted due to the fact these same loony's over-estimated climate change.
http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21574490-climate-change-may-be-happening-more-slowly-scientists-thought-world-still-needs

I agree the climate is changing - and yes its getting hotter and also man has contributed to it but unfortunately there's nothing we can do about it. Even if you eliminated all the trucks and cars from the world, there would be virtually no effect in the climate or CO2 levels.

September 26, 2013 @ 12:45 PM

Speysidephil

Right on Argie,
The more information that comes out these day re: climate change, the more the likes of Gore and Suzuki are being discredited.

September 26, 2013 @ 1:09 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Why do you guys politicize everything?

This entry about the right to die with dignity and now we're talking about climate change?

The world's climatologists are 95 percent certain that humans are to blame for global warming. 

That 5 percent gap may seem large. It is not. In science, nothing is 100 percent sure—not even the law of gravity. 

Here are a few things that scientists are just as or less certain of than climate change:

that cigarettes kill
the age of the universe
that vitamins make you healthy 
that dioxin in Superfund sites is dangerous

It would be completely foolish to bet on the 5 percent chance that they're wrong.

September 26, 2013 @ 1:29 PM

Ben Vidal

@ Toronto Mike: My honest apologies. When I posted this I had two windows open with your blog. One on the last open mike the other on this. I posted here in error. No intention of taking over the right to die talk .

September 26, 2013 @ 1:33 PM

Nigel Trousershrapnel

The premise of climate change as just a change in the temperature and weather is quite naive. The whole concept has been significantly dumbed down for consumption by the masses. The unexpected result of the dumbing down process is that the deniers have an easier time dismissing the notion that man is responsible.

The concept of peak oil has been a reality for some time, but for the most part people haven't changed their driving habits. I think the same will be true for climate change as well. Simply dismiss it until it's impossible to do so.
The first hint will come when the great unwashed renew their home owner insurance next year.

September 26, 2013 @ 1:44 PM

Argie

@ Mike
I started it with the Rob Ford news. I was just having some fun.

I also figured the right to die debate was done. Next time I'll wait for open mike.

September 26, 2013 @ 1:45 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

As I see it, the right to die with dignity is a moral and ethical debate, much like the pro-choice debate. It's sensitive, but as we become a more progressive nation I suspect it will become clearer that we should have the right to die with dignity. Here we don't only have Michael Low's video, but stories from regular commenters who have lost loved ones to terminal cancer.

Climate change, however, is science. It's completely different. I just hate tying the two issues together...

September 26, 2013 @ 1:54 PM

God

I'm not in favour of legalizing assisted suicides nor any suicides for that matter.

However I would be in favour of the legalization of assisted deaths of certain things... starting with Toronto Mike's Blog.

September 26, 2013 @ 2:00 PM

Mississauga Phil

That must have been from the right wing God....you know...the one that loves America best and wants all of us to have guns...

September 26, 2013 @ 2:14 PM

CQ

@Toronto Mike 13:29 sep 26th
You might enjoy my Fake Pot - Chief(s) 'Wheezes a Damn Lot' entry regarding tobacco and 20th century produced cigarettes.

September 26, 2013 @ 7:05 PM

Matt

I've always wondered myself why putting down a pet is celebrated but we make our fellow humans suffer.

It's something that should be covered in each persons will. If I'm terminally ill with no chance to recover, I'd want the plug pulled. I don't want to make my family and friends watch me suffer needlessly.

September 27, 2013 @ 1:41 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Matt

Pulling the plug is different than assisted suicide.

You can have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order and that's completely legal today. But assisted suicide remains illegal, even when your disease is terminal and you're of sound mind and body.

September 27, 2013 @ 1:56 PM

Cancer Fighter

My 18 year old step-daughter is battling terminal cancer. She was diagnosed in December 2012, had her first of 7 rounds of chemo on Christmas, had a 15 hour surgery in May which took all the ribs on her left side of her torso and has left her looking like a shark took a chunk out of her body. In August she had emergency spine surgery. She is now going through 5 weeks of radiation 5 days a week. We aren't sure if she will see her 19th birthday in November.

No university for her, no buying her first car, no first apartment, no wedding, no children.

She lives a life of constant pain, and meds which leave her terribly constipated. Sometimes being unable to go to the washroom for weeks at a time.

And at 18, enduring pain that has crippled the adults around her. She has no light at the end of the tunnel, only probable paralysis and eventual death. As a parent, who would ever want to see their child endure such pain? It's unfathomable that as a forward thinking society she is not entitled to chose the mercy we allow for our pets.

September 30, 2013 @ 10:54 AM

Cambo

@Cancer Fighter.

I am so sorry for what you and your step-daughter are going through. Cancer is hell, on everyone.

@Argie

Go ahead, Argie. Tell this 18-year old girl that she must endure it because you think it is "killing someone".

Somewhere, someone is putting their dog down now because it can no longer walk.

September 30, 2013 @ 4:38 PM

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