Case Study: Healing and Autonomy

Mike and Joanne are the parents of James and Samuel, identical twins born 8years ago. James is currently suffering from acute glomerulonephritis, kidney failure. James was originally brought into the hospital for complications associated with a strep throat infection. The spread of the A streptococcus infection led to the subsequent kidney failure. James’s condition was acute enough to warrant immediate treatment. Usually cases of acute glomerulonephritis caused by strep infection tend to improve on their own or with an antibiotic. However, James also had elevated blood pressure and enough fluid buildup that required temporary dialysis to relieve.

The attending physician suggested immediate dialysis. After some time of discussion with Joanne, Mike informs the physician that they are going to forego the dialysis and place their faith in God. Mike and Joanne had been moved by a sermon their pastor had given a week ago, and also had witnessed a close friend regain mobility when she was prayed over at a healing service after a serious stroke. They thought it more prudent to take James immediately to a faith healing service instead of putting James through multiple rounds of dialysis. Yet, Mike and Joanne agreed to return to the hospital after the faith healing services later in the week, and in hopes that James would be healed by then.

Two days later the family returned and was forced to place James on dialysis, as his condition had deteriorated. Mike felt perplexed and tormented by his decision to not treat James earlier. Had he not enough faith? Was God punishing him or James? To make matters worse, James’s kidneys had deteriorated such that his dialysis was now not a temporary matterand was in need of a kidney transplant. Crushed and desperate, Mike and Joanne immediately offered to donate one of their own kidneys to James, but they were not compatible donors. Over the next few weeks, amidst daily rounds of dialysis, some of their close friends and church members also offered to donate a kidney to James. However, none of them were tissue matches.

Based on this case study, I believe that beneficence should be the most important principle, as James’ parents should focus on what the physicians are telling them about the seriousness of his medical condition and the danger of skipping or delaying treatment. The parents, on the other hand, appear to be more concerned with the notion of autonomy and their decision to disregard the doctors and instead rely on their religion. Mike and Joanne clearly love their children and are not intentionally harming them, but their delay in seeking care has worsened James’ illness, which could now hurt Samuel if he is forced to have surgery and live the rest of his life with one kidney that may fail at some point. While I believe Mike and Joanne meant well, I believe their actions resulted in malice and a lack of justice for both boys. Case Study on Healing and Autonomy
The most essential principle, in my opinion, is beneficence, which is based on the Christian worldview. Beneficence is a primary Christian responsibility, but Christian ethics goes beyond the moral rule of beneficence, which applies to everyone at all times. It is a commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:2528)……..

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