Right to die
One of the main reasons I left AIIMS and went on a spiritual search was a night in the Nephrology ward in August 2006. I had done night duties before, but this night was different. We had three patients who had become extremely critical. They were kidney transplant patients and their new kidneys had failed. I had seen them in their good days and their bad days. But this particular night they all passed away and left a very deep impression on my life, as i struggled to accept certain aspects of the medical system i was working in.
First one to die was already on critical life support for the past two days. She was lifeless and we were holding on to her. I couldn’t understand for what reasons all her systems had failed. My Senior Resident just wasn’t sure what to do. The family was willing to take her. They had enough and wanted peace. Finally we removed the life support and I could sense a relief on the family members’ faces as they had been trying to take the patient out of the ward and fulfill her last rites for a day.
Few hours later, another critical patient’s vitals started collapsing. We gave him all possible resuscitation, prolonged CPR, numerous injections, intubation etc. I had given up after 15 minutes but SR kept going for half an hour. It shook my inside to see a certain madness that went on in that room. I can still feel it. I didn’t want to hurt that person anymore, as if his soul asked me to let him go. I felt myself getting tense, and mentally exhausted .
After him being declared dead, at around 3 AM, another patient started collapsing. We tried our best to save him but we couldn’t. We again went overboard with our medicines and interventions, trying to save him. By the end of the night I had had my fill. I was so overwhelmed by a tension inside my body. I wanted to leave. I said to myself this is not what I want people to have in their lives. My intellect also couldn’t accept it anymore. I became aware of a right of all beings to have a peaceful and blissful death.
Tibetan Buddhism talks about it in the Book of living and dying . It’s a remarkable science of dying with peace and happiness, and finding true spiritual meaning as one leaves this world. Allopathic medicine has forgotten that connection we have with death. It has forgotten people’s right to have peaceful death because of what we have been taught in medical schools. The mindset has become very loaded with paradigms inconsistent to basic human dignity of peaceful death. It has become important for one to aware of his rights to his body and allowing oneself to have a peaceful death.
Death is something which will come to all of us one day, and spiritual traditions asked one to always remember it; and that remembrance helps one to be a good human being . Death is not something to be afraid; rather it is a door to another world. Look at it this way – we were not always here; we came here, we were born, we are growing and then one day, whoosh! we will have to go. What is all this fuss and running scared about? Eat well, sleep well, exercise, do Sooryayog. Live like the Sun would like us to live – full of joy and excitement for life. Be just to life – all life. If we see an animal suffering, how easy is for us to suggest euthanasia? But when it is our near and dear ones, we would rather make them suffer for years. One has to have that decency and feel compassion for all life. As a doctor one has to help not just the body and mind but also connect one with his spirit, and help in their spiritual journey.
Allopaths rarely go into such spaces , and thats where the problem lies . They live stressed out lives themselves , bearing a terrible burden , living in lies. Every year around 300 -400 doctors kill themselves in USA http://www.newsweek.com/2008/04/19/doctors-who-kill-themselves.html. Its the highest in any profession in the world .This is because many of them dont agree in their hearts with what they are doing , they want to break free but cant . Almost every year in AIIMS we had one doctor jumping into the swimming pool and killing himself .Doctors face death day in and day out and if one doesnt have a heart which understands this process in a spiritual context its very difficult for one to cope with this job , especially when u have shifts lasting 72 hours .There is urgent need to create a more holistic health system , where spiritual science and western science are merged , they are not antagnostic , such a merger shall bring much peace , light and joy to this world . It shall create more enlightened doctors and bring the faith back into the healthcare system. Health shall be a cause of joy , meeting a doctor would like meeting a saint . We can live in a life without fear with eyes beaming with light .
I am in favor of euthanasia , especially where misery has been prolonged . Advancements in technology have lead to people on life support for long periods. Everyday i see articles on how stem cell technology will prolong our lives , we will have very long lives as we shall keep having new organs . We would become immortals , but before that happens i am sure there will be Right to Die as well . There is a time when one shall have to leave this planet even if we have lived very very long time , maybe 300 years . One cant live on forever , only beings who can live on forever are those which can be nurturers and protectors of life , like Great Siddhas and yogis , but they dont have lives like we do , they are very impersonal beings no families , just like the air constantly moving on the path , helping all beings to live aware and consciously .
With the coming of new technologies like artificial organs , i believe its extremely important to have the right to die as well. So that one day if one wants he may choose to go as well.
Old has to die so as the new is born , so are we to whither away so as the new may come . Yes there will always be radical new innovations and technologies and its because of this i plead all of you all to think deeply on this issue of euthanasia , prolonged life support , immortality and fear of death. Do u really want to have immortal life?
Dr Sunny Sandhu
Please note: This article has been edited for grammatical and spelling errors ONLY to conform to Naam-to-batao standards. No other corrections have been made. The original article can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=116699325051777
You are reading the Sooryayogi Sunny’s Desk section on your own blog Naam-to-batao. All views expressed in this section are those of the author (Sunny Sandhu) and do not necessarily reflect those of Naam-to-batao.