Join | Login  

     Popular! Books, Stories, Articles, Poetry
Where Authors and Readers come together!


Featured Authors:  Pinckney Rivers, iWynn Schiller, iCheryl Wright, iZ McClure, iWalt Hardester, iS Zachary, iBeverly Scott, i

  Home > Health/Wellness > Articles Popular: Books, Stories, Articles, Poetry     

Jane St Clair

· Become a Fan
· Contact me
· Books
· Articles
· Stories
· 55 Titles
· 30 Reviews
· Save to My Library
· Share with Friends!
Member Since: Jan, 2008

Jane St Clair, click here to update your pages on AuthorsDen.

Featured Book
Mystery of Madera Canyon
by Mr. Ed

A Boy, A Dog, Two Birds, and a Ghost!..  
BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

Featured Book
Carson Chance, P.I., Over the Edge
by N Brown

This is a sentimental and epic story about a young man, injured in the Viewnam War, who returns to Dallas, Texas, in 1964, and begins rebuilding his life. Set against the..  
BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

   Recent articles by
Jane St Clair

I Survived Hospice! Wear that tee shirt proudly!
Ten Myths About Legalizing Assisted Suicide
The St. Croix Cougar Belongs to the West
Living Wills, End-of-Life Medical Forms and the New York Times
Murder by Suicide: Internet Predator Attacks the Most Vulnerable Among Us
Grandma's Suicide Kit Backfires
Sonoran Desert Spring, April Spring, Tucson, Arizona
Civil War Re-Enactment at Picacho Peak: The Gettysburg of the West
Tragedy in Our Tucson Neighborhood: Gabrielle Giffords Shot
To Molly with Love on National Suicide Survivors' Day
Cowboys Gather for Symposium In Sonoita, Arizona
The New Rx Cure: Assisted Suicide as Medical Treatment
           >> View all

Now that you woke up from your coma, do you need us to kill you?
by Jane St Clair   
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, November 14, 2010
Posted: Sunday, February 07, 2010

Share    Print   Save    Become a Fan

No one is a "vegetable" - new research shows people in comas and semi-conscious states are more conscious than we used to think

                      by Jane St Clair

Author of Walk Me to Midnight


Rom Houben was a handsome athletic student who landed up paralyzed after a terrible accident. Unable to communicate, he lay in the back wards of nursing homes for 23 long years. Then one of his doctors got creative and used technology to scan his brain. To everyone’s astonishment except his mother’s, Rom had been fully conscious and aware all that time.

The case is changing what we know about patients in a vegetative state also known as the “brain-dead.”  Most recently, a team of researchers in Britain and Belgium studied 54 patients identified as “vegetative” and found that one in ten was conscious to a degree no one thought possible. When the doctors asked them questions such as, “Do you have a brother?” — the “yes” and “no” parts of their brains lit up in a similar way that they do in normal people. When some of them thought about tennis, they could “play tennis” in their minds. This study appears in the latest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Another study done last year at Liege’s Coma Science Group found that 41% of patients diagnosed as being in vegetative states were actually minimally conscious.

You’d think that results like this would excite medical people and push research into a new and different direction, maybe to answer questions like: How can we better communicate with people who are minimally conscious? Is there a way to enable them to use robots and computers to talk to us? How can they let us know if they are comfortable? What do they need right now? Is there a way to help them better participate in society?  In the “Star Wars” movies, all the doctors were robots.

Just as the space program opened up amazing breakthroughs in computer development and miniaturization, so could such research among minimally conscious people help us develop new ways of teaching, learning, and communicating. Perhaps we could even find the breakthroughs we need to help autistic children, now one in every 100 babies born in the United States.

Yet when the New York Times reported on the New England Journal of Medicine research on its front page February 4, 2009, what was their concern? Not breakthroughs in science. Not how to better communicate with minimally conscious people –no, sir — none of the above.  Their big concern was medical ethics. If 10% to 41% of  brain-dead people are minimally conscious, is it still okay to remove their feeding tubes? Knowing that they are minimally conscious makes it harder for families to decide “end of life” issues. Talk about robot-doctors!

In the Times article,  Dr. Joseph Fins, chief of the medical ethics division at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, expressed this worry — “If you ask the patient whether he or she wants to live or die, and the answer is to die,  would you be convinced the answer was sufficient?” Is that really the first question we should ask them when they wake up? Now that you’re awake, do you want us to kill you?

Dr. Alan Ropper, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said in an editorial accompanying the research in the New England Journal, “Physicians and society are not ready for ‘I have brain activity. Therefore I am.’” Why not?

So the question is not how can we better communicate and help these people, but whether they should live or die. Under some of the provisions in new legislation now before Congress,  health care providers paid with government money could withhold food and water from people in such states of consciousness, even though that is probably a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And, as Rom Houben clearly teaches us, mistakes happen.


Bookmark and Share



Carey, Benedict. “Trace of Thought Is Found in ‘Vegetative’ Patient,” The New York Times, page one, February 4, 2010.

Tutton, Mark. “Trapped Coma Man: How was he misdiagnosed?” CNN, November 24, 2009,






Web Site: The Compassionate Choice

Want to review or comment on this article?
Click here to login!

Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!

Simple Herbal Remedies by Pamela Ackerson

Return to the Olde Ways. The hustle and bustle of modern day life has brought many of us to a quick fix attitude.This book is for those of you who are fed up; have looked at your l..  
Featured BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

Addiction: The Master Keys to Recovery by Dr. Michael De Vito

Read the book that "RUDY" from the NOTRE DAME Football Movie calls a "Valuable Tool for a Lifetime of Success."..  
Featured BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

Authors alphabetically: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Featured Authors | New to AuthorsDen? | Add AuthorsDen to your Site
Share AD with your friends | Need Help? | About us

Problem with this page?   Report it to AuthorsDen
AuthorsDen, Inc. All rights reserved.