16 July 2017

Dilemma

Did you know that every day, yes every day an estimated 5500 children - mainly babies - die in eastern and southern Africa? They die from diarrhoea, malaria and malnutrition. Most of these deaths could be prevented. £1.5 million could certainly help hundreds of babies to live.

Meanwhile in England, a baby who is more or less brain dead has become an international  cause célèbre  with even The Pope and Donald Trump muscling in with tacit support for the parents of little Charlie Gard, The parents seem unable to accept that the kindest thing to do would be to remove Charlie's life support. Desperately, they have been clutching at straws. More than £1.5 million has been raised via crowdfunding to pay for their campaign and experimental medical treatment that will never provide the miracle that Charlie's parents are clearly seeking.

The case has been all over the TV and press. But I would ask this - when did we last hear Donald Trump and The Pope speaking up for the dying babies of Africa? Where is the current TV and press coverage of those "cases"?  Are we saying that the lives of all those African children matter less than the life of one helpless, brain damaged baby who relies on machines just to exist?
 Two babies

35 comments:

  1. almost all parents will, understandably fight for their child.
    But your post are my sentiments also.
    Hard decisions need to be made, with compassion.
    My love and prayers to all caught in such a dilemma.

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    1. Perhaps if I had been in the position of Charlie's parents I would have also fought to the bitter end but I would rather like to think I would have chosen a kinder, more humble and pragmatic path

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  2. Donald Trump's intervention, in the middle of dismantling Obamacare, which will leave millions of families unable to access health care, is unbelievable.

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    1. You are right Jenny. The erosion of Obamacare will cause preventable deaths.

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    2. Idiot man Trump obviously doesn't understand irony.

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    3. That's true Sals View. He also doesn't understand truth.

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  3. I have been mulling over writing a similar post and agree with you wholeheartedly. Of course every parent will fight tooth and nail for their child and do anything they can, but I feel that for even a 10% chance that this child's life could be improved, he will still never see, hear or be able to have any real quality of life Whereas, as you say, in Africa children are dying of things that have a 100% chance of cure if only they had the medication available. When my daughter worked in Tanzania, she told me harrowing stories about the baby units she worked in. They didn't even have basic paracetamol in their A&E departments as they could not afford it. Your photos show two babies and two completely different expectations.

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    1. I applaud your daughter for giving some of her time and her expertise to healthcare in Tanzania which is of course by no means the worst African country with regard to infant mortality. It is a delicate issue and I realise that some people may be offended by this blogpost.

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  4. I am definitely not offended by it, Neil, I just don't know what to say.

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    1. Well I am just pleased you read this post Meike.

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  5. Starving babies in Africa just aren't news, are they? The media won't have a field day over the plight of the half million or so poor little things who die every day from preventable diseases. They aren't fashionable. It's also true that the starving in Africa have always been with us - do you remember the endless collections at school to send money to help alleviate their suffering? I wonder how much money ever gets through, and maybe they have become a lost cause?
    It's tragic for Charlie Guard's parents, and as you say, there won't be a miracle, no matter how much treatment he has.

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    1. Thank you for reflections CG. We seem to be pretty much of one mind on this. At times Africa has seemed like a bottomless money pit but there have been many successes.

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  6. I'm sure the Pope IS speaking out about starving babies in Africa. But when he does it's not news because we've sadly become inured to the sight of starving African babies and messages from the religious community about them. (To the point that voters rave about money being "wasted" on foreign aid.) Charlie, on the other hand, is a novelty -- a baby that Western Science can't seem to help. I agree with you completely that the best thing would be to remove Charlie's life support and let nature take its course, but of course that's much easier to say from my distant perspective. If he were my child, who knows what desperate measures I might want to try.

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    1. And thank you for your wise reflections too Steve. I agree that if we were in little Charlie's parents' shoes we might think differently.

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  7. Yes, I have sometimes considered other situations like these. The money we pour into one child (or a pet, even) and the difference it could make for dozens or hundreds of people but how to make these decisions? What is the cut off point? When do we re-direct the resources? (In this case I think the answer is clear)
    There are no clear answers and we would turn ourselves inside out trying to find them.

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    1. I know that you are someone who has been very close to many births. Not every baby has what it takes to live. In my two pictures there is a child who has no prospect of a worthwhile future and another child who with proper help costing far, far less than £1.5 million could live a long, active and happy life.

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  8. As far as I am concerned, all religion sucks, and sucks hard, as the kiddies say.

    I used to think Francis might have something going for him - his behaviour towards Trump, for example when they met in Rome - but this just makes him seem as hypocritical as the rest of them.

    Yes, the situation with wee Charlie is tragic, but any caring human should surely be helping those poor parents to understand that they need to let go.

    Excellent post, Mr Pud.

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    1. Sometimes letting go is the kindest and least selfish route. Unfortunately, some live births are not meant to endure. That's just the way it is.

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  9. At last you have proved that there are people out there that clearly see that the parents have got this all wrong. How can allowing the baby to be experimented, on with the best result that he ends up just 10% less brain damaged for life, be showing compassion as a parent. Many of us, if not most of us, can see what the correct action should be and I really struggle to understand the parents way of thinking.

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    1. I understand their desperation and their dream of a miracle but we are talking of real life not fantasy. Let the little lad go.

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  10. There is no justice in the world YP. You know it and I know it and yet the powers that be would rather bicker and spend large sums of money on weapons.

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    1. There is no justice but it is still worth striving for it.

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  11. The kindest thing here is to let the little one peacefully slip away. Sometimes modern technology isn't a good thing. Only a few years ago this baby would have died naturally long ago. I understand though, being a parent that they want to hang on to their child. Very difficult one this.
    Briony
    x

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    1. It does raise several difficult moral questions doesn't it Briony? By the way I have put you in my football crowd!

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  12. Agree that Starving babies in Africa and elsewhere are not the novelty of this child...and there is white privilege at play always. It is all so very sad and should most certainly be the decision of the parent's , nobody else has the right to step in unless it is abuse...on which this borders.

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    1. I think medical professionals should be listened to Linda Sue. The parents have appeared resistant to well-meaning professional advice.

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  13. And the Conservatives here are now using this sad case to say, "See how awful socialized medicine is?! They'll refuse to let you try to save your child's life!" It's disgusting the way they try to twist the situation for their own political benefit.

    I certainly can't blame grieving parents for not being rational, but that poor baby has suffered enough. There are things worse than death. And the plight of so many children in Africa is heartbreaking. Where is the concern for THEM?

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    1. Charlie and his parents have had the best of the National Health Service. If his life were to be artificially prolonged it would certainly not be a life worth living. And yes - where indeed is the concern for African babies?

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  14. Our world is sadly skewed to the money and well off areas.

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  15. I agree with your thoughts even while wondering what I as a parent would do. This topic raises a related one: where do we draw the line at care for the elderly? I saw many resources poured into keeping my father alive for several months when the end result was just the same. But his wish was always to fight to live, and until it was clear that the end was very near, fight is what he, I and the medical community did. Hard, hard issues. Sometimes the answer is clearer than others - but perhaps only from an objective standpoint.

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    1. In many instances it seems almost cruel to prolong the life of a very poorly old person. Drugs and machines can prevent an elderly person from dying with dignity in their own home.

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  16. Racism in this world is definitely not dead!

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    1. I suppose it is a form of racism but it also relates to economic status. The threatened African babies generally come from poor homes.

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  17. For what it's worth I'm completely with you on this one.

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