Monday, February 08, 2010

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Convenience or Life?

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Some years ago in the States we had a neighbor who were a middle-aged Israeli couple. Not particularly religiously observant, they attended shul on Shabbat and were an active part of the community. I asked them once about a fancy impressionalistic painting on their wall. The father pointed to it and said, "it was painted by my 10 year old daughter, who almost wasn't here!".

He told me the following story...
"When my wife became pregnant, she was in her late 30's so the doctor was 'looking out' for 'problems'. After the first ultra-sound, he said "uh oh". He said there might be a problem, we'd wait another month to see. A month later we arrived nervously and had another ultra-sound. The doctor looked at it carefully and declared the fetus to be deformed. He recommended an immediate abortion as the fetus would 'probably not' survive for long after birth.

We went home and thought about it, and upon return told the doctor that we're Jews and we won't do that. Thought we're not particularly religious, we do know that life and death is in Hashem's hands. Who are we to decide to kill this fetus? The doctor responded, 'well, if you're not going to take my advice I can't treat you.' He referred us on to a high-risk obstetrician.

We went to the high-risk doctor, who repeated the tests and made the same declaration. Again we told him that unless there was a risk to my wife's life we would not kill this fetus. He said fine, but it was clear from the ultra-sound that the baby probably would only survive a few days after birth, at best.

At this point I got a letter from my insurance company. Because two doctors had recommended an abortion, they would not cover the cost of the high-risk obstetrician, or any obstetrician, delivering the pregnancy. The high-risk obstetrician's billing manager called up and told me, 'I'm sorry, we don't work for free. The doctor cannot continue care and do the delivery unless you pay in advance.' The fee was over $100,000.

So now we faced the question, kill the fetus or lose our house, retirement accounts, savings, etc. Tear filled and stressed from the nightmare pressure put upon us, my wife almost went into premature labor. However, we decided we simply would not give in, and as my wife felt a kick from the paper she clearly said she would not kill her baby.

We sold everything, borrowed from friends, cashed in every account...and just barely raised the money in time. We went to the hospital for an induced controlled birth, with a neonatal ICU team standing by on the side of the delivery room. A surprisingly normal labor occurred. The baby started to come and the neonatal care team stepped forward to be ready to grab the baby and immediately begin life saving treatment...

The baby was born. Girl or boy, we didn't know as the neonatal team grabbed the infant, placed it in an incubator and rushed from the room. We waited with baited breath for word on our baby as my wife finished contractions and the after birth process. My wife as exhausted and I was terrified.

The neonatal doctor came in and called me over. I squeezed my wife's hand and walked out the door to hear the dreaded news about our baby. Was our baby still alive? Would it have hours to live or days to live? Would it suffer? Would it know we were there for it?

The doctor looked at me and said, "your daughter is fine." A daughter! But wait, fine? Meaning she's holding her own for the moment? For how long, what's the diagnosis? "Umm, no, she's perfectly normal. There's nothing wrong. She has an APGAR of 8. I don't understand it, it was clear from the ultra-sound, but perhaps there was some other tissue or fluid creating shadows or echos. Anyway, come see her, she's an average newborn."

I gripped the wall to keep from falling as I went to see and hold my newborn perfectly healthy daughter...

And as you can see, not only is she a normal 10 year old, but she's very gifted! Baruch Hashem!

Doctors are authorized to heal. Yet they do make decisions of convenience. Further, crazy legal systems that have allowed lawsuit's for things like WRONGFUL LIFE (a child born with a birth defect not detected) have resulted in doctors trying to help parents not be burdened with 'imperfect' children. The doctors are not always right.

7 comments:

ZeroEchoNone said...

Baruch Hashem!

Anonymous said...

I second that... B"H!!

Anonymous said...

gevalt. what a story. thanks for posting this. it should be submitted to all the major medical journals that deal with obstetrics.

Shoshana Kesner said...

On this topic, I responded to Rabbi Lazer Brody: We have medicalized a natural process by utilizing available technology to the limit. We do it to "be safe". It's a case of misplaced Emunah, you know. When all our faith is placed in human understanding, as educated and well meaning as it is, G-d is taken out of the equation. I don't know how many times I have advised husbands to trust the instincts of the wife if she believes something is wrong with the pregnancy.One woman I know, kept telling the doctors something was wrong and with all their technological tests, they said it was fine. Her outcome was tragic. Women were given an extra measure of Binah. Right? We don't trust our G-d given instincts anymore. I believe that technology is in this world for a purpose, we do need the advances that we have today- it's not applied properly.

How many babies are born at 37 weeks unnecessarily due to the "ultrasound" saying so, or the external fetal monitor (proven to be faulty in studies) shows a blip and rush to surgery? An old fashioned fetascope would do nicely to confirm... try and find one in a modern labor and delivery room. Medicine today is highly reliant upon technology and this is why we need to stop, think and reason- "Is this answer the best one for the situation?" To consult knowledgeable Rabbis are a sound way to do this. Ladies and Gentlemen, there are very knowledgable and well informed Rabbis who can advise, even the doctors will open doors for them. I have seen it first hand.

Shoshana Kesner, PhD, BSN
www.binahbaby.com

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Medical System of SODOM and AMORA ...

sharona said...

Baruch Hashem she's okay

Anonymous said...

Good thing these people were able to raise the money. If they had been really poor it would have been a different story.And people talk about the horrors of socialized medicine, capitalist profit making medicine aint so great either..And then even after a child is born, so many people complain about their tax money going to support "welfare babies" or to support a woman who "chose" to give birth to a special needs child. IN any case doctors have a long history of not being too good with women and child birth. One of the good things about "feminism" in the 1970's is that it brought back midwives and doulas. But apparently there is still a lot of work to do with doctor's and insurance companies and how pregnancy is "treated". Good for the couple for standing up against the " all knowing authority" of the doctors and the power of the insurance companies.

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