Bioethics with Dr. Jeffrey Kahn: Who Decides What's Best For A Dying Infant? | WYPR

Bioethics with Dr. Jeffrey Kahn: Who Decides What's Best For A Dying Infant?

Jul 31, 2017

Credit photo from Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.  When he stops by Midday, we talk about all manner of complex dilemmas. Today, we’re having a conversation about the ethical questions surrounding the case of Charlie Gard. He’s the infant in Britain who died on Friday, a week shy of his first birthday.  He was critically ill for all of his short life.  He had a rare genetic condition that left him brain damaged and unable to move or breathe on his own.

His parents sought permission from UK courts to do what they thought was best for their son.  First they wanted to take him to the U.S. for experimental treatment.  More recently, his caregivers said that there was nothing more than could be done to help him and that he would die without artificial life support.  His parents wanted to take him home from the hospital to die.  In both instances, the courts ruled that what the parents wanted was not in the best interest of little Charlie.

This sad case reminds us that there are ethical questions that parents of very sick children and their doctors face all the time.  What does it mean to act in the best interest of a critically ill child and who gets to decide?   And when does the parents’ right to make life and death decisions for their infant begin and when does it end?  

On today's show we're also talking about the viral Facebook post written by Baltimore-based musician Sarah Hughes, in which she detailed her experience being carjacked and brutally beaten just days ago after leaving a jazz gig on Calvert Street. Her Selmer Saxophone, cash from the gig, phone and car were all stolen from her. The Baltimore and D.C. jazz community are coming together for a special fundraising evening to help replace her instrument and offset medical costs.