Choosing life or choosing another's life


Novel Coronavirus has witnessed a new class of heroes--our elderly patients who chose to sacrifice their lives and health for younger patients. During the pandemic, world over heartening stories have been reported of aging patients who chose to give up their treatment and ventilators to a younger person so that he/she could have a go at life. 

But the choice is not theirs to make every time and each time that they can’t make the choice, the heart bleeds with pain.

A 90-year-old coronavirus patient, Suzanne Hoylaerts, from Belgium chose death by refusing ventilators so that the doctors can give it to younger COVID-19 patients. While Suzanne asked the doctors to give her ventilator to a younger person she exclaimed how she has had a chance to live a long and beautiful life and that at this age she has enjoyed her life and would rather save a younger person who has many more years to go. Her daughter was pained with this decision of hers but stood by her mom’s decision even though she couldn’t say goodbye or attend her own mother’s funeral. 

Around the same time, Don Giuseppe Berardelli, a 72-year-old Italian priest too refused to use a ventilator to save the lives of younger patients. Both these cases are enough to warm anyone’s heart and reinstil faith in humanity, but then there are other stories of times when these heroes were denied their rights because of protocols.  

Revathi, Karnataka, a 70-year-old woman was pained to see a 10-year boy struggling with the complications of coronavirus in the same hospital as her. She said, “Mohan reminded me of my grandson who is currently living with his father in Bangalore. Last time I met him was one year back. But it’s okay I thought, I have lived my life, I had no regrets and I would be more than happy to die if I could save  10-year-old Mohan. I really wished that God would’ve chosen me and let Mohan live. 

His condition had been rapidly deteriorating. He had gone weak and I couldn’t even help him. I couldn’t see him die not just because he reminded me of my grandson but also because he was a very bright young boy. The anguish of living while a small child dies feels equal to snatching the chance of someone to experience the wonders of life that you’ve experienced yourself. The doctors have been trying to console me that I wouldn’t have been able to save him any ways, but who is to tell this to my mind and heart? 

I recovered from the virus and everyone clapped for me at the hospital, but I am not happy to live. Not when I know, I am living the life of a small child.” 

While we clap and shower petals on frontline workers and healthcare workers and acknowledge their services, let’s take some time out to quietly pay our respects to our aging heroes who made the supreme sacrifice, albeit, quietly.