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Healing and Autonomy


Religion is crucial to humans as it is a way of seeking solutions for the many challenges encountered in life. This is, however, different when the issue at hand is of medical nature and needs immediate attention. Some people believe that their strong faith can redeem their sick sibling through miracles, but in most cases, this is not true. This is the exact situation articulated in the Case Study: Healing and Autonomy, in which both parents Joanne and Mike face the dilemma of either letting their other son Samuel donate a kidney to his brother James, who has been diagnosed with acute glomerulonephritis, and risk his life too but save that of his brother or continue to believe in their faith and hope that God will perform a miracle to heal their son, with the risk of endangering his life. It is therefore important to explore ethical issues, Christian principles, and values in both Christian and medical perspectives about the case study.

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Pressing Issues

The critical issue in the case study is the dilemma on whether to have both of Mikes's sons put at risk, whereby one will be the recipient of the kidney while the other son will be the donor, or to consider using the faith to intervene in the healing of James. However, given the deteriorating health condition of Mikes's son, it means that this will be better dealt with from a rational approach that would involve treatment (Thirumoorthy & Loke, 2013). Despite Mike being religious, he is strongly hoping that he gets to have both of his sons alive, and it is unbearable for him even to imagine that one of them could die in this situation. He has come to his sense upon realizing that the religious solution cannot work, and has given in to the proposal by the physicians to perform a kidney transplant, but the other arising dilemma is when he realizes that it is his other son who will be the donor. This risk makes Mike continue waiting for the religious breakthrough, rather than endangering the lives of both sons.

Physicians Perspective

It is important to know that it is the role of the parents to make decisions on their children's health. However, the doctor has the power to offer a contradictory opinion when the life of the involved child is deteriorating and requires immediate treatment. This is the point where the doctor exercises his/her ethical consideration if the parent's decision might have adverse effects on the child. In this situation, it is evident that Mikes's judgment is irrational and the doctor is expected to insist on doing what he/she believes to be medically right. Knowing that the child's health is deteriorating, it would be unethical for the doctor to let the child suffer on the notion that the parents have decided that the fate of the child will be determined by a religious miracle (Principles of Medical Ethics, 2017). It is also religiously believed that every life is crucial, and thus the doctor ought to incorporate this knowledge with his/her ethical consideration to ensure that the right thing of treating James has been upheld, even if it means going against Mike.

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Christian Narrative

Treatment Refusal

Christian teachings think that the health conditions should be presented to the physicians while still urging the Christians to keep their faith so that God can provide healing through physicians (OBrien, 2007). It is thus advised in the religious context that the faithful should listen to the physicians and heed their medical direction on the premise that they are qualified in handling health issues professionally. The Holy Scripture also alludes to the fact that God values life, which is why through his word, he created humans in his own likeness (New King James Version, Genesis 1:26), and hence all efforts should be put to save a life. It is also ethically right that the doctor has the option of disregarding the irrational decision made by Mike and treating the child. Christian teaching does not encourage people to refuse medical treatment and to save the life of the child, Mikes's decision ought to be overridden.

Patient Autonomy

Christian perspective calls for the preservation of patient autonomy provided that it is intended to save lives. The decision, however, has to be considerate of the society and hence maintain its wellbeing. It is thus crucial for the doctors to make sure that they are keen on the patient's autonomy in respect to their medical condition (OBrien, 2007). This autonomy can be disregarded in some cases, especially when the physician is aware that its effects will be detrimental to one's health. According to the case study, the child is not in a position to make a decision, given that he is only eight years old and hence the power to decide is bestowed upon his father. The Christian teaching has empowered the physician to override the father's opinion when it is presumed irrational. It is thus evident that patient autonomy ought to be disregarded if it may be harmful.

Organ Donation

Organ donation, according to Christian teaching, is only permitted within specific ethical considerations. The principle of totality is the guiding process, which alludes to the fact that the well-being of the body and its functionality should be preserved. It is hence allowed to offer one kidney since only one is required for body functioning (OBrien, 2007). The principle of fraternal love equates organ donation to charity and hence it is right for Mike to allow saving James' life by accepting the transplant.

Sickness and Health

Christians must understand that it is human nature to be sick, and hence the diseases ought not to be treated via spiritual interventions, but rather through physicians. The physicians have experience and knowledge of the human body and its functioning and therefore ought to be allowed to cure the sick (Principles of Medical Ethics, 2017). It is good to be religious and seek spiritual guidance, but practical situations should be solved using practical actions. It is thus crucial to know that sickness will demand medical attention while at the same time praying that the medical process will be successful. Therefore, Mike would be encouraged to let the doctors operate while he prays that all will go as planned.

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Mikes Reaction

What Should Mike Do as a Christian?

Christianity values life, and thus Mike has made life preservation a priority. With this intention, he ought to let the physicians carry out their life-saving treatment. He is also supposed to know his son's life is valued in society and religion should not be the reason that this life is lost (Thirumoorthy & Loke, 2013). It also follows that he has to grant consent for his other son to donate a kidney to save James' life.

How Should Mike Reason About Trusting God and Treating James?

Mike's reasoning has to appreciate that trust in God and medical treatment should complement each other. He should know that God's will works through doctors and his prayers will help the process to be successful (Rosmarin et al., 2013). Thus, it follows that Mike has to believe his son will be healed via medicine.

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Conclusively, it is evident that faith in God ought not to be a pretext for not offering medical attention to one's child. It is the mandate of physicians to take action if they are confronted by a life-threatening situation. Provided that ethical considerations are met, Christian teaching encourages the preservation of life. Christianity also teaches faithfully that sickness is natural and should seek medical attention as well as prayers for the outcome. Mike is also expected to allow the transplant to save a life, even if it means putting the life of the other son at risk.

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