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In the minds of most people, ordinary care for an ailing loved one would include food and water. It does not.
As we learned when Terri Schiavo was killed, treatment is defined by the medical community and court cases. Food and water are no longer considered ordinary care. Instead, they are classified as medical treatment and can be withheld as easily as medication or surgery.
Families facing a medical crisis are ill equipped to deal with legal definitions of care. The time to make decisions about organ donation and extent of care is before the need arises. The person best suited to make those decisions is the one most affected: the potential patient.
Instead of the common Living Will, which often assumes a withdrawal of care, Life Issues Institute recommends the more detailed Will to Live. Society pushes for assisted suicide, valuing an arbitrary quality of life more than life itself. The language of a Living Will is vague and open to interpretation, but a Will to Live spells out exactly the care a person is willing to accept or forego as well as who may speak on his or her behalf.
Equally valuable is a signed and witnessed Organ Donor Refusal card. A person who has not registered as an organ donor can still be considered a potential donor unless he or she has explicitly refused. The Organ Donor Refusal card also allows a person to reject tests that doctors use to declare brain death.
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