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Case Study: Two months after being honorably discharged from
his job as a military test pilot, the world of Donald C. exploded in a flash of
burning gas. He was then 26 years old, unmarried, and a college graduate. An
athlete in high school, he loved sports and the outdoors. Rodeos were his
special interest, and he performed in them with skill. After leaving the
military, Donald joined his father’s real estate agency. The two of them had
always had a close relationship, and were looking forward to running a business
together. One July afternoon, they were out together appraising some farm land.
Without realizing it, they parked their truck near a large propane gas line,
and the line was leaking. Later, when they started the truck, the ignition set
off a huge explosion. Donald, his father, and the truck were enveloped in
flames. The father died on the way to the hospital. Donald was admitted in
critical condition, and barely conscious. He sustained mostly 3rd degree burns
over 70% of his body, both eyes were blinded, and parts of his hands, feet,
arms, and legs required amputations. Heroic actions by the medical staff kept
him from dying. The therapeutic treatments were excruciating. Within a week,
Donald made it very clear that he wanted to be left alone and allowed to die.
He refused to sign any further consent forms, and demanded to be allowed to
leave the hospital and go home. “I don’t want to go on as a blind and
crippled person,” he told his doctor. “Dying can’t be worse than
this!” Donald’s mother fought zealously against this. She had already lost
her husband, and losing her son was more than she could bear. She was also a
devoutly religious person and was concerned that Donald would die
“lost,” without coming back to the Church he had left several years before.
There were others involved, too. Donald’s doctor, Sam Macon, was the top burns
surgeon in the Midwest. He wanted Donald to keep fighting, believing that with
some new surgical techniques that Dr. Macon had devised, Donald could at least
be able to return home someday to live with his mother. Dr. Macon was also
hoping that Donald’s case would bring some attention from the media that would
help to build a new burn unit at the hospital. Donald’s fiancee, Clementine,
was furious that everyone seemed to be using Donald. His mother was using him
to meet her own emotional needs, and the doctor was using Donald to further his
own medical career. Clementine thought everyone should leave Donald alone and
let him die, if that’s what he wants. She said she just wanted what was best
for Donald, and she insisted that it didn’t have anything to do with the
$100,000 she was in line to get from Donald’s life insurance. Should Donald be
allowed to go home to die? Should he be kept in the hospital and treated
against his wishes, in hopes that his feelings might change later? In this case
study the mother made the treatment decisions as Donald was determined to not
be competent. How would the theory you chose tend to argue what would be the
morally right or best thing for the mother to do? Why? (Remember – your post
should NOT reflect your personal opinion – but the application of one of the
moral theories.

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