Bioethicist reminds Cheney about value of tax-funded R&D & of advance directives

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caplan-730740.jpgPenn bioethicist Art Caplan writes on the Science Progress website (a project of the Center for American Progress) about how former VP Dick Cheney has benefited from a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) to assist his failing heart.


” As Cheney resumes his active role in GOP politics, is he aware that the only reason he is alive is as a result of taxpayer-supported government research at the National Institutes of Health? He might want to mention that the private sector did not do the basic research that led to the invention of the LVAD–public money played the crucial role.

The left ventricular assist devices are used when a heart is no longer capable of pumping blood on its own and cannot recover. Those who receive them will die with them. Which leads to another topic Cheney should be talking about–how he will die.

… it is important that the former vice president and anyone else with an LVAD have a conversation with their doctor about end-of-life planning. While politically it has proven difficult to keep a financial incentive in place in Obamacare to encourage this conversation, it is crucial that those who are dependent upon a last ditch technology like an LVAD talk about their wishes and values with their doctors and their families.

Dick Cheney has spent his life combating the untoward influence of big government on individual freedom and as a critic of many nondefense federal programs. Ironically, it is federal spending that created the machine that allows him to continue to push his point of view. And it is the very program he and the GOP have condemned as “death panels” that provides the best hope that he will enjoy the kind of death he chooses. He and the rest of us must do whatever we can to encourage advance care planning as part of our routine medical care.”

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Walter Lipman

January 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Well and nobly said. I’ve linked my Facebook account into this, because it puts the lie to the notion of “death panels” more elegantly than anything else I’ve seen.