Sunday, August 13, 2006

PRINCIPLE OF TRIAGE

This is a comment I received in response to "Life is Precious, No Matter What".


You made a very compelling argument Olga. Your passion for kindness and charity is truly admirable. However, I would like to say something about the policy of the Philippine Heart Center. Let me say this first, I am not an apologist for PHC and my comment is based on the assumption that PHC is applying their policy FAIRLY ACROSS THE BOARD, ALL THE TIME. Having said that, I do not believe cruelty is the right characterization of their policy. I was a soldier once and what comes to mind in cases like this is the principle of triage. For someone in the leadership or command position I am painfully aware that I have to apply this sort of decision at some point in time and be subjected to it myself should I become a casualty. As you may probably already know, triage is used in hospital emergency rooms, on battlefields, and at disaster sites when LIMITED MEDICAL RESOURCES must be allocated only to those capable of deriving the greatest benefit from it. Furthermore, the survival of the recipient must have a tangible benefit to the greater good. Yes, it sounds callous and cold but considering the Philippines, a virtual disaster site specially for the poor, I can understand the decision of PHC. How many Filipino children who have the same heart condition as Kate but given a second chance at life will contribute something beneficial to mankind? Would you embark on the same undertaking with zeal and persistence for them?


My reply:

EAA, Thank you for your comment.

I have not come across the term “principle of triage” before, but I understand its essence perfectly.

I am thinking on two levels here. The passionate mother in me is crying out loud against this injustice and yes, this CRUELTY. Whether you like it or not, it is cruel. Furthermore, it is, in your own words, cold and callous. But another side of me is capable of appreciating the necessity for this policy. I am realistic enough to acknowledge that given some of the considerations you mentioned, it is indeed, in the simplest and most basic word I could think of … the most practical. On the cerebral level, yes, I can agree with you wholeheartedly.

However, and this is where and why we could never agree with each other, my arguments are premised from an entirely different standpoint. At the risk of being accused as self –righteous, I am arguing for what I consider to be morally right … all of us being equal in the eyes of God, therefore having equal rights for a chance to live, NO MATTER WHAT!

I am not actually condemning the Philippine Heart Center for that policy. Rather, I am condemning the circumstances that made it ABSOLUTELY necessary for the hospital to adapt such policy re: LIMITED MEDICAL RESOURCES.

May I ask this question though. Is it actually limited medical resources alone that is the consideration? You may or may not know this yet, but being a charity patient does not mean that Kate will be operated on for free. It simply means that her family will be paying less than the P400t – P500t that is needed for a full-paying patient. If I am not mistaken, P225t would be sufficient already. With the P150t that we have raised, hey, P75t no longer seems so unattainable!

So one cannot help but ask … why not? Kate’s family would still pay anyway. Doctors’ fees perhaps?

To answer your final question: would I still embark with the same zeal and persistence for children like Kate?

YES I definitely would.

Come to think of it, how many of us “normal” people have actually contributed something worthwhile to the world, even to our own communities?

Is it not that most of us live only for our sorry little lives, or selflessly care only for those who are nearest and dearest to us? I do not want to sound like a cynic, although maybe I already am, but I am painfully aware of this fact. That is the harsh reality. Most people, I am not saying all, but MOST, are bent only on advancing their own concerns in their own little worlds, and that includes me!

All we “normal” people possess is merely the potential to be of some good to others.

Does the fact that we have this POTENTIAL to be beneficial to people other than our own families give us a better right to be saved? That Kate possesses none of these prospects makes her what? – DISPENSABLE?

Is she not human too?

I urged my readers to imagine Kate as their own. How about you Sir? If she were your own child, and your situation is similar to that of her parents? What would you do? How would you feel?

I really appreciate receiving your comment. Do not be surprised if I will post your comment and my reply in my blog. I would like you to be able to read my response should you visit again. God bless!

P.S.

I misunderstood the question, which i realized belatedly, refers to otherwise “normal” but similarly sick children, who, if given chance for a second life, would be beneficial to mankind… would I still embark on the same undertaking with zeal and persistence for them?

My answer is still the same, but not because they will ultimately become assets to the great majority, but simply because I value human life. What the heck! I even value animal life!!! This is not self-promotion, but I pick up abandoned kittens and puppies from the streets!

The right to live or to have a chance at second life should not be a privilege that is available only to those who can afford it … but then, I am thinking of ideals here, and being such, it is like trying to reach for the clouds….

So I just settle on what little I can do given my limited resources, and PRAY AND HOPE, that there are other people out there who hold similar values, but unlike me, have greater resources to share.

Finally, thank you for your kind words about my "passion for kindness and charity", but I am not deserving. I am merely trying to rise above my own quagmire of selfishness. It is a constant struggle - to look beyond myself and those who are dear to me - and it is a losing battle most of the time.

Best regards,
Olga

1 comment:

Laarni said...

My comment to what EAA says is this:

In this case, he is right about the principle of triage. Applying that principle with PHC, would mean that we couldn't get baby Kate into their program. And because of that exemption, the class of SUHS 84 are raising their own funds to help baby Kate have the much needed operation because we believe that she deserves to live and we cared for her. We realize that there are so many Filipino kids who has the same medical needs as her but we couldn't possibly help them all since we are not rich but what matter is that one drop of help at a time.