Friday, March 17, 2006


A baby girl suffering from a rare heart defect has had surgery cancelled seven times because of a shortage of intensive-care beds. Lily Cater, who had her second birthday yesterday, has had an operation for pulmonary atresia — a life-threatening condition linked to underdevelopment of the heart — repeatedly rescheduled at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The condition, which affects about three children a year in Britain, requires an intensive- care bed for post-operative recuperation. However, pressure on the Birmingham unit has meant that the 19 beds available have been taken up with children at immediate risk of death on each occasion.

The parents of Lily, who is not expected to live beyond her fifth birthday if she does not have the operation, said that it was appalling that the NHS could not provide enough beds for such crucial surgery. Michala Cater, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, said that it was immensely frustrating to know the hospital had the expertise, but not the facilities, to carry out the operation. “We could understand it being cancelled a few times but seven is ridiculous,” she said. “Lily is getting bluer and bluer by the day. I just want them to operate and make our little girl better.” Mrs Cater, an accounts manager, added: “It’s agonising for all of us. Every time we get a date for the operation we get mentally prepared, pack our bags and make all the arrangements and then it doesn’t happen.”

Lily was first due to be operated on a month ago. She was listed as an urgent case after her parents, who initially took her to Leeds General Infirmary, approached doctors in Birmingham for a second opinion. Mrs Cater and her husband, Paul, a construction worker, have founded the Lily Cater Cardiac Trust in the hope of raising funds to improve research into the condition. Patients with pulmonary atresia suffer from a lower level of oxygen in their blood — normally about three-quarters that of a healthy person — due to underdevelopment of arteries linking the heart and the lungs. As a result, the heart has to work twice as hard. Lily also has a hole in her heart, problems with feeding and breathing, and poor circulation. The complex operation, which involves inserting a plastic tube to connect an unused artery to create another channel for blood flow, and closing the hole in her heart, has a 20 per cent fatality rate.

Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Trust said that the organisation had extended its apologies [Big of them!!] to the Cater family for the additional anxiety caused. It said that all relatives of a child awaiting heart surgery were always given warning of the possibility of delays. “Cancelling surgery is not something we do lightly or for any reasons other than to accommodate emergency cases or when the unit is full,” an official said. “Of course, we understand that this is very stressful for Lily and her family but it is impossible for the trust to guarantee that any operation will not be cancelled at short notice, and all families waiting for heart surgery are told this. “However, every effort will be made to ensure that Lily’s operation proceeds as soon as possible.”

The British Heart Foundation said that only 49 children in Britain were born alive with this rare defect between 1985 and 1999. Children with pulmonary atresia require lifelong follow-ups by a cardiologist to check how their heart is working. These children risk developing infection in the heart’s walls or valves, known as endocarditis, before and after surgery. [So scrap the kid, seems to be the thinking]


Universal Health Care and Euthanasia

Post lifted from Part Time Pundit

There are two events that should give people pause when considering universal health care. First is Hurricane Katrina and several facilities euthanisizing patients not because of terminal illness, but because they didn?t think they could move them. Second is Charlotte Wyatt who doctors want to euthanize (or more accurately let die) because they don?t think she is worth saving. A court has rules that the doctors can make this decision even though it is contrary to the will of the parents. In the first case, it is people making mistaken practical judgments. In the second case, it?s little more than outright eugenics.

It is one thing to let some one commit suicide because they've lived a full life and have little hope of recovery. It is another to mandate death to people because they aren't worth taking care of. The first case can be called "right to die". The second case is more properly called the "right to kill". Confusing the two makes it easier for the "right to die" crowd to be a "right to kill" crowd.

Right now it is particularly difficult for people to be put to death against their stated (or their family members) will in the United States; that is until universal health care is introduced (and hopefully it never will be). To summarize, the government can't be trusted to know which phone calls belong to terrorists and which belong to moms planning on getting their kids to soccer practice. The government can't be trusted to get industry advice and not sell out to the rich. The government can't be trusted even to hold prisoners captured on the field of battle. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE TAKE ALL MY MEDICAL RECORDS AND HAVE COMPLETE CONTROL OVER MY HEALTH CARE!!!

The problem comes in that the government uses different priorities to make decisions than people do. For instance, the Irish Health Service had other priorities in mind when deciding on health care for the elderly. Or stateside, an Illinois pension fund seems to be operating under different priorities then actually keeping pensions around for teachers. Bureaucrats like wasting money, when they waste too much there isn?t enough to take care of business. Apply this to health care and it means people without money who have come to rely on public health care will get screwed.

What happens when people get screwed by the health care system? Well they'll be euthanized more often than they are now. New Orleans medical professionals decided that it was too much effort to try to keep them alive so they killed them. Not because they were terminally ill. Not because they were in incredible pain. It was because they assessed the situation and didn?t think it worth trying to find a way to help them. The difference is when they aren't the government, they'll be prosecuted. When they are operating with a government imprimatur, they'll get away with it more likely than not. The government will decide who is worth treating and who should die based on some dollar calculation.

If the NSA can't be trusted to listen to some phone calls, what makes people think that this health care calculus will be honest?


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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