Good Life Good Death According to Christiaan Barnard
Toledo-Pereyra, Luis H
Journal of investigative surgery : the official journal of the Academy of Surgical Research 2010 Jun; 23(3): 125-8
Christiaan Barnard (1922-2002), pioneering heart transplant surgeon, introduced his ideas on euthanasia in a well-written and researched book, Good Life Good Death. A Doctor's Case for Euthanasia and Suicide, published in 1980. His courage in analyzing this topic in a forthright and clear manner is worth reviewing today. In essence, Barnard supported and practiced passive euthanasia (the ending of life by indirect methods, such as stopping of life support) and discussed, but never practiced, active euthanasia (the ending of life by direct means). Barnard believed that "the primary goal of medicine was to alleviate suffering-not merely to prolong life-he argued that advances in modern medical technology demanded that we evaluate our view of death and the handling of terminal illness." Some in the surgical community took issue with Barnard when he publicized his personal views on euthanasia. We discuss Barnard's beliefs and attempt to clarify some misunderstandings regarding this particular controversial area of medicine.
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