Sudan – will humans ever learn?

The disparity on how humans and animals are treated at the end of life continues

What a sad, thought-provoking photo, published in the Globe and Mail newspaper.

It shows Sudan, the last male northern white rhino, unable to stand. You can see the terrible frustration and pain on his face. Veterinarians, at the Pejeta Kenyan Conservancy, decided that since there was no quality of life left for Sudan, only unsolvable pain, the best treatment was a lethal injection.

It’s ironic that veterinarians are so compassionate about the end of life for dying animals.

Yet some physicians, who often see the agony of human death, can be so lacking in compassion, and are outright cruel.

We could ask why ending Sudan’s life did not trigger the usual cries that only God can decide this issue. Or argue that a lethal injection was the start of ‘a slippery slope’ to kill old animals.

Or that since Sudan was not close enough to death, he must suffer longer before ending his life.

The great disparity on how humans and animals are treated at the end of life continues.

This is why I wrote years ago that I wanted a veterinarian on my Living Will committee, if there was ever a meeting to decide if I would live or die.

I knew a veterinarian would not insist that my life continue until the last drop of blood or the final breath.

Canada has finally allowed legalized medically assisted death under certain conditions, a huge step in the right direction. But it’s not a perfect solution because man’s inhumanity to man remains.

Veterinarians did not insist that Sudan’s lethal injections be delayed because his death was not immediately imminent. Contrast this to our current law that demands that death be imminent.

But how imminent must it be? No one seems to know, even when the patient is pleading to have life ended. Patients in agony know when life is meaningless.

So should doctors.

I have seen friends die from Alzheimer’s disease. I’ve witnessed their gradual descent into nothingness. They have no recollection even of family, are incontinent of urine and feces, and sometimes belligerent.

Yet, since they are not at imminent risk of dying, they linger on in this hell day after day, sometimes for years. At this point, unable even to plead for death.

One reader related that a loved one was dying of metastatic cancer and pleaded with doctors to end his suffering. One day he did not answer the telephone.

His daughter found him hanging by his neck, a sight that has haunted her for years.

What boggles my mind is that some Christian doctors allow needless suffering.

For instance, some terminally ill patients in the final stage of severe pain have to be transferred many miles to another hospital that allows euthanasia. This is pure unmitigated cruelty committed by physicians who say they are acting in the name of religion.

Further confounding is the attitude of some palliative care physicians. They see agonizing death almost on a daily basis. Yet, a significant number refuse, for religious reasons, to end the life of a person who pleads to leave this planet.

Maybe Sudan is now in Rhino Heaven.

But not according to Stephen Hawkins, the brilliant astrophysicist, who studied the far reaches of the universe, and who declared there is no God.

If he’s right, what enormous irony!

It means that when a religious person dies and nothing happens, they won’t know they’ve been wrong.

And that all the lives lost in religious wars were for nought and solved nothing. Or when an atheist dies and there’s no Valhalla, they will not know they’ve been right!

But in our real world I believe it makes no sense for patients to endure needless pain.

And they, only they, should decide when enough is enough.

For years there’s been a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals. So isn’t it time for a similar society to protect humans from needless, cruel and senseless agony, committed all in the name of religion?

Sudan, I fear humans will never learn.

The Gifford-Jones Living Will can be obtained by sending $10 and a self-addressed stamped envelope to Gifford Jones, 65 Harbour Square, Suite 1110, Toronto, Ontario. The postal code is M5J 2L4.

For more, go online to www.docgiff.com. For comments, email info@docgiff.com.

Just Posted

Niek Theelen continues to build his comedian career

Engaging performer is a popular draw across the region

‘Flipping Amazing’ Pancake Breakfast welcomes 6,000 Central Albertans

Westerner Days is, unofficially, underway after Bower Place held their annual Pancake Breakfast.

RCMP execute search warrant at Syndicate Motorcycle Club Red Deer clubhouse

Four people face charges including kidnapping, forcible confinement and drug charges

Greyhound closure will affect approximately 380,000 passengers in Alberta

Red Deer cerebral palsy relied on the bus for medical appointments

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Angry giant baby Trump balloon makes him feel ‘unwelcome’ in London

Trump told The Sun newspaper that he felt unwelcome in London because of protests, including a giant balloon that was being flown over Parliament on Friday.

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Canadian soccer fans brace for World Cup final between France, Croatia

First ever final for the Croatians, while it’s France’s third, going into match as betting favourite

Belgium finishes 3rd at World Cup, beats England 2-0

France and Croatia will play in the final on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow

Police arrest Indigenous pipeline protester occupying B.C. park

Led by Kanahus Manuel, the Tiny House Warriors moved into park in Clearwater last week

MONEY MONITOR: Key steps to getting out of credit card debt

B.C. residents carry the third-highest amount of credit card debt in Canada

Most Read