Pros and Cons of Life Support


For family members of a person who is suffering from an incurable medical condition or a dying person who suddenly goes into coma, the question of using life support to extend the life of the patient always arises. This has always been a contentious issue that often ends in legal battles but still, some people are for it while others are against it.

Life support entails procedures and treatments such as using mechanical devices to aid patients who have weak or non-functioning vital organs. It can be used temporarily in emergency cases but the debate is about its application in cases where patients are in vegetative state and have minimal or no signs of restoring back to health. Here are the views of supporters and critics.

List of the Pros of Life Support

1. Chance of Recovery
People who agree in the use of life support say that even if a patient is already in comatose and despite what doctors say that a person is clinically dead, no one will never really know what the future holds. There are people who have been in this state for a long time and have low chances of survival but who were able to wake up and live.

2. Organ Donation
What proponents say about life support is the chance it gives the loved ones to decide on donating the organs of their ill loved one. This will give them time to consider helping others to live through organ donation.

3. Time for Family Members
Putting a patient on life support is also beneficial to the family members of a sick person who still want to be with their loved one and have high hopes that full recovery will be granted. And even if the patient has no way to recover, being on life support makes it possible for the families to grieve and be with their patient.

List of the Cons of Life Support

1. Prolonged Suffering
Critics of the life support say that if a person has been suffering for a long time and suddenly went comatose, putting him or her in life support, especially if the organs are already non-functioning, is just extending the pain this person is going through.

2. Financial Burden
When a patient is in life support, it entails expenses. In some cases, it depletes the resources of families who have dying patients in mechanical support. Aside from the expenses of being in life support, there are also medicines and doctors to pay.

3. Possibility of Aggravation of Condition
Some of the critics of life support say that although it has some benefits, it can also worsen the condition of patients and can result to dehydration, sores, cramps and respiratory problems. There are cases when the patient suffers more pain from the process like when tube is inserted. Some patients are not well taken care of while in life support since caregivers are busy with other matters or become complacent their patient is being supported mechanically.

The discussion about life support will always be a controversial one because of the numerous cases documented over the years but people will always be divided about it. Nevertheless, it has advantages and disadvantages.