Sentenced to death for being old

…‘I said his actions constituted “pure ageism”. But they said he hadn’t acted wrongly as it was a “matter of professional opinion”.’

This kind of ‘professional opinion’ appears to be costing more than 14,000 lives each year, thanks to routine discrimination by doctors who assume older patients are too frail for surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy…  

The NHS denies life-saving treatment to the elderly, as one man’s chilling story reveals

John Naish
The Daily Mail [UK]
6 April 2012

When Kenneth Warden was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer, his hospital consultant sent him home to die, ruling that at 78 he was too old to treat.

Even the palliative surgery or chemotherapy that could have eased his distressing symptoms were declared off-limits because of his age.

His distraught daughter Michele Halligan accepted the sad prognosis but was determined her father would spend his last months in comfort. So she paid for him to seen privately by a second doctor to discover what could be done to ease his symptoms.

Sentenced to death: Michele Halligan fought to get treatment for her father Kenneth Warden after a specialist told her nothing could be done

Thanks to her tenacity, Kenneth got the drugs and surgery he needed — and as a result his cancer was actually cured. Four years on, he is a sprightly 82-year-old who works out at the gym, drives a sports car and competes in a rowing team.

‘You could call his recovery amazing,’ says Michele, 51. ‘It is certainly a gift. But the fact is that he was written off because of his age. He was left to suffer so much, and so unnecessarily.’…

…Last week, the respected health research charity, the King’s Fund, warned that prejudice about older people means they often go without treatment for conditions such as depression, and are not even tested for illnesses such as heart disease.

This is despite huge advances in medical care which mean that patients can now successfully undergo major surgery at ages where they would not previously be expected to survive.

In America, doctors pioneering the field of ‘geriatric surgery’ regularly perform open-heart surgery on people in their 90s.

In Britain, the leading cardiac specialist unit at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge has now achieved a mortality rate of less than 1 per cent for coronary artery bypass operations, despite the fact that the average age of its patients is in the late 60s…

 

The complete article is at The Daily Mail.

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