Before 32-year-old Tim Bowers was extremely injured in a hunting accident this past weekend, it seemed like he had his entire life ahead of him. He was an avid outdoorsman, newlywed, and father-to-be. But when he fell 16 feet from a tree and suffered a severe spinal injury that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down and likely unable to breathe on his own again, his family asked whether or not he could be brought out of sedation to hear his prognosis and decide what he wanted to do next ...
Doctors complied, and upon hearing what his life would be like if he took extra measures to save it, Tim made the heart-wrenching decision to end his life. Words like tragic and heart-wrenching barely begin to describe this. But his wife of only three months Abbey explained her husband's decision perfectly.
She told IndyStar.com:
The last thing he wanted was to be in a wheelchair. To have all that stuff taken away would probably be devastating. He would never be able to give hugs, to hold his baby. We made sure he knew that, so he could make a decision. Even if he decided the other thing, the quality of life would've been very poor. His life expectancy would be very low.
Ugh. So, so sad ... but at the same time, it IS heartening to know that someone can take control of their own fate this way and not be forced to live a life they have no interest in living. People.com notes that courts have long upheld the rights of patients to refuse life support, but usually the family makes the call. In other words, it's rare that a patient himself is able to decide on the spot to be removed from life support, like Tim did, especially so soon after injury.
Thankfully, standard medical practice is to grant more autonomy to patients. And that's the way it should be. And it also sounds like Tim's family was grateful. As his sister, Jenny Schultz, said:
I just remember him saying so many times that he loved us all and that he lived a great life. At one point, he was saying, "I'm ready. I'm ready."
Who would argue with that?
How do you feel about the ball being in Tim Bowers' court on this extremely difficult decision?