Write a 1,200-1,500 word analysis of “Case Study: Healing and
Autonomy.” In light of the readings, be sure to address the following
- Under the Christian narrative and Christian vision, what sorts of issues are most pressing in this case study?
- Should the physician allow Mike to continue making decisions that seem to him to be irrational and harmful to James?
- According to the Christian narrative and the discussion of the
issues of treatment refusal, patient autonomy, and organ donation in the
topic readings, how might one analyze this case?
- According to the topic readings and lecture, how ought the Christian
think about sickness and health? What should Mike as a Christian do?
How should he reason about trusting God and treating James?
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Case Study: Healing and Autonomy
Case Study: Healing and Autonomy
Mike and Joanne are the parents of James and Samuel,
identical twins born eight years ago. James is currently suffering from acute
glomerulonephritis, kidney failure. James was originally brought into the
hospital for complications associated with a strep throat infection. The spread
of the A streptococcus infection led to the subsequent kidney failure. James’
condition was acute enough to warrant immediate treatment. Usually cases of
acute glomerulonephritis caused by strep infection tend to improve on their
own, or with an antibiotic. However, James also had elevated blood pressure and
enough fluid buildup that required temporary dialysis to relieve.
The attending physician suggested immediate dialysis. After
some time of discussion with Joanne, Mike informs the physician that they are
going to forego the dialysis and place their faith in God. Mike and Joanne had
been moved by a sermon their pastor had given a week ago, and also had
witnessed a close friend regain mobility when she was prayed over at a healing
service after a serious stroke. They thought it more prudent to take James
immediately to a faith healing service instead of putting James through
multiple rounds of dialysis. Yet Mike and Joanne agreed to return to the
hospital after the faith healing services later in the week, and in hopes that
James would be healed by then.
Two days later the family returned, and was forced to place
James on dialysis, as his condition had deteriorated. Mike felt perplexed and
tormented by his decision to not treat James earlier. Had he not enough faith?
Was God punishing him or James? To make matters worse, James kidneys had
deteriorated such that his dialysis was now not a temporary matter, and was in
need of a kidney transplant. Crushed and desperate, Mike and Joanne immediately
offered to donate one of their own kidneys to James, but they were not
compatible donors. Over the next few weeks, amidst daily rounds of dialysis,
some of their close friends and church members also offered to donate a kidney
to James. However, none of them were tissue matches.
James’ nephrologist called to schedule a private appointment
with Mike and Joanne. James was stable, given the regular dialysis, but would
require a kidney transplant within the year. Given the desperate situation, the
nephrologist informed Mike and Joanne of a donor that was an ideal tissue
match, but as of yet had not been considered—James’ brother Samuel.
Mike vacillates and struggles to decide whether he should
have his other son Samuel lose a kidney, or perhaps wait for God to do a
miracle this time around. Perhaps this is where the real testing of his faith
will come in? “This time around, it is a matter of life and death, what could
require greater faith than that?” Mike reasons.