May 19, 2010

G. Das

We discuss the fate of a 17-year old boy. He has been diagnosed with Lymphoma that has metastasized throughout his entire body, including his bone marrow, making the prognosis of recovery with continuous chemotherapy only 50% likelihood of survival. His chances are probably less given the advanced stage of his cancer, and relapses even with therapy are common. It will cost 15,000 Rs/month for the therapy itself, plus medicines and other expenses. The total will come to around $500/month for full treatment, which would be continued for at least 6 cycles. This is about how much one might pay for a month's rent in the US. 

Perhaps the chemotherapy would lengthen his life. Perhaps in a miracle, it would save it. Perhaps it would be a waste of money. 

Indeed, the latter is what the doctors think. We could pay for the treatment of 10 patients with that money. There is budget enough for 6 more cancer patients this month. 

Today is the day when the life of a young man may be extended but when there is not enough money to do so. And it is up to us. The doctors decide not to fund his care. 

We protest. 
But we have not met G. Das. 
Do we sentence him to death? 
What is money well spent? 
Such a young man? 
Is it not our medical duty to do our best to treat? 
Could he not survive? 
Can we at least try? 

We decide to meet the patient before making a decision. If we raise money from abroad, perhaps we can fund the first cycle of chemo to see if the patient looks likely to respond. 

If not, we'll move on. 

What is the value of a human life? 

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