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A tragedy in every direction

By Patrick Van Roy On June 4th, 2013 at 8:36 pm

thThere is a little girl that lives not to far from where I grew up, she’s dying. She has cystic fibrosis. 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan needs a Lung Transplant.

Federal Regulations state that a child under 12 can’t receive an adult transplant. Which the majority of donors are.  It is more complicated than just a political decision. The reason for the rule is viability and survival rates. There are  1,600 people on the adult waiting list. and 20 children that are also waiting.

This story tugs on my heart in several directions. Her doctors say she would live with an adult transplant, but the Federal board of Doctors say odds are she won’t.

The story is playing like a bad made for TV Movie. Everyone is weighing in pleading for an exception, an exception that isn’t coming. It was a local story and has gone National. So of course the Politicians are weighing in. All of that is to be expected, but this exchange disturbed me.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rebuffed an appeal from Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., on behalf of a girl who needs a lung transplant but can’t get one because of a federal regulation that prevents her from qualifying for a transplant.

“Please, suspend the rules until we look at this policy,” Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., asked Sebelius during a House hearing Tuesday on behalf of Sarah Murnaghan, a 10-year-old girl who needs a lung transplant. She can’t qualify for an adult lung transplant until the age of 12, according to federal regulations, but Sebelius has the authority to waive that rule on her behalf. The pediatric lungs for which she qualifies aren’t available.

“I would suggest, sir, that, again, this is an incredibly agonizing situation where someone lives and someone dies,” Sebelius replied. “The medical evidence and the transplant doctors who are making the rule — and have had the rule in place since 2005 making a delineation between pediatric and adult lungs, because lungs are different than other organs — that it’s based on the survivability [chances].”

Barletta countered that medical professionals think Murneghan could survive an adult lung transplant. During the exchange, he also said that the girl has three to five weeks to live.

Sebelius reminded Barletta that 40 people in Pennsylvania are on the “highest acuity list” for lung transplants.

Now what Sebelius said is true, but there are some things that you just don’t say. In Public, For the Record, and on Film. If you have made the decision that you are not going to intervene, Fine. You don’t then say it publicly.

Also when your a controversial figure that half the country doesn’t trust and says your going to create DEATH PANELS, do you think it wise to have this conversation in public?

I don’t know, what say ye?

Reaper postponed.

By Mike Cunningham On August 20th, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Death. That state, or rather that lack of state, is one which comes to us all; of whatever class, race, religion, status, wealth, we are all the same when it comes to dying. I remarked in a previous post on the death of my eldest brother that I would remember the times with possibly a glass of wine, along with my favourite music, but the most vital thing is that we do remember. The vast majority of people on this planet will not know of their impending demise until they are advised by the medical profession, and perhaps it is a good thing that we cannot know for certain, because of the worries that knowledge may cause.

But an infinitely-small number of people long for death, primarily because of the anticipated relief from agonising pain, or the lack of sensation, as in ‘locked-in syndrome’. Such a case is that of Tony Nicklinson, who went to the High Court to get a change in the Law so that he might receive a lethal injection to end his ‘suffering’.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Mr. Nicklinson suffers badly, and we have his thoughts for proof, but I, for one, don’t feel much sympathy for this man, despite his well-publicised problems, because the way out, with death as the reward, is already with him. He can refuse all sustenance, which means starving himself to death, in the same way as our legendary ‘caring’ NHS professionals adopt with their ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’, he could also refuse all water, in which case he might last for a week; or he could get his wife to wheel him onto a train to Switzerland, and kick his personal bucket at Dignitas, the suicide clinic.

But he chooses to try and get the Law changed. But the Judges, quite rightly, stated that Parliament should change the Law, because they would not.

Methinks he doth protest too much!

It could have been, and very nearly was.

By Mike Cunningham On July 18th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Reading the story about the unfortunate death of a holiday-maker in Northern Cyprus as a direct result of drinking from what she thought was a bottle of water. Unfortunately, the bottle had been used as a handy container for a highly toxic cleaning fluid by a member of the cleaning staff. Result was a very painful death for the lady who only wanted a refreshing swig of water.

It could happen to anyone; and it nearly did happen to me. I still can recall the taste as a tiny sip of what was supposed to be hot coffee reached my lips and tongue.

……….those in peril on the sea!

By Mike Cunningham On December 18th, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I believe that sometimes we should stop, and remember; Remember that men still go down to the seas, and place their lives before the immense power of the oceans.

They bring the Christmas presents, the machinery, the oil,  the food and all the vast panoply of worldwide trade to our shores and ports; but sometimes the bill is high when presented!

From the truly funny to the truly terrifying.

By Mike Cunningham On December 16th, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I take the Sunday Times virtually every weekend, sometimes the Telegraph, but usually the Times wins out. As I have come to expect, one gets a better standard of comment in the ST pages, but a better class of insult in the Telegraph, but of course that is purely my opinion. The one problem with quoting, or attempting to quote or indeed to link to the pages or articles of the Sunday Times is that it hides behind a paywall, and as I refuse, along with many others, to pay ‘Murdoch-geld’, the only solution is to write about or quote from any articles.

So I write, according to my own very simple headline, of two articles, at page top and at the bottom of that same page. The latter is a selection of ‘the least successful’ snippets according to Stephen Pile, and more than one of the small selection printed made me laugh uncontrollably. One extract referred to the ‘least successful’ attempt to talk to birds or animals. It seems one guy was convinced of his successful efforts at  imitating the call of a tawny owl which was nesting in an oak tree at the base of his garden. He had been trying to carry on a ‘tawny’ conversation for over a year before his wife mentioned this to their next-door neighbour; and then it was discovered that the neighbour had been replying to this strangely-reticent tawny owl himself for the same period of time.

The second article is, unfortunately, no laughing matter. It concerns the travails and deep suffering, both physical and mental, of Sir Chris Woodhead, formerly Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for Schools, and a particular pain in the collective necks of all the teaching unions. Formerly a fit and active man, Woodhead was struck some five years ago with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). It is a affliction of the central nervous system, there is no cure, and it is uniformly fatal. Woodhead writes movingly of his parents deaths, of their agonies and torment, and then asks why he is confined, by Law, from choosing the time, place and method of his death, whilst he is still able to control some of his own movements. He asks, in all simplicity, why the feelings, beliefs, motivations and rulings of parliamentarians, bishops and archbishops regarding assisted suicide should take precedence over his own choices about how he lives or dies.

He accepts that he could travel to the Swiss Dignitas clinic, but as the man so rightly and angrily points out, he doesn’t want to go to Switzerland. He also points out that his death isn’t going to harm anyone, no-one is pressurising him to end his life, and would rightly reject any outside interference in what is, and should always be, a very private matter.

Of the two articles, I believe that Sir Chris wins out because laughter comes easily to me, but to read and then to think that his fate could so easily strike someone close, make his words the dreadful winner. I have long experience of a different sort of illness; but I too wonder if I would face up to an end such as that in store for Sir Chris Woodhead in the same matter-of-fact manner as he!

to sleep; perchance to dream?

By Mike Cunningham On October 2nd, 2011 at 6:47 pm

So who has the right to decide when we die? Should it be a deeply personal decision; or should there be an input from medical or judicial sources. Gone are the days when suicide, or an attempt at suicide, was considered to be so contentious as to be a criminal matter. But there are serious possibilities, still upon the Statute books, of any person who has aided a suicide-intent person being hauled into Court, as this aid is still considered a criminal matter.

Chris Woodhead, a motor-neurone disease sufferer, makes the valid point that he is the only person qualified to decide when his own quality of life deteriorates past a certain point, and therefore he, and only he, should be able to make such decisions; as well as those he might ask to aid or help him in his decline!

A High Court judge has decided that he knows better than family members of a brain-damaged woman as to her ‘quality of life’, and thus states that the patient has ‘some positive experiences’ and that ‘ that there is a sufficient chance for these experiences to increase’. All I would say in comment upon this particular judge is that he must have ‘super-sensitive’ intuitive powers beneath that grey wig. How can an ordinary human being ‘know’ what someone else is feeling or thinking, especially since that person can neither sign, nor move, nor communicate in any acceptable manner?

It is all very well stating that the Law must protect those who cannot protect themselves, but who decides what protection is available, and who decides when the sufferer, or the family, cannot make those choices for themselves?

Abide with me.

By Mike Cunningham On September 17th, 2011 at 11:24 am

Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray;
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenour of their way.

Thomas Gray.                            Elegy in a Country Churchyard


Life, and death, are all around us. The one path which is unknown to everyone as that taken beyond the accident black-spot, the elderly person who succumbs to hypothermia, the infant whose body gives up the fight before life has advanced more than a few days, the cancer sufferer who has been told to book a hospice bed; they are all equal. I am writing about the one taboo which faces us all, and how we are remembered. It is in the manner in which we are remembered after death; whether we are mourned, or sometimes buried or cremated without sadness or regret through bitterness after a family feud, or incautious words hastily spoken, that marks our passing.

We are all special to someone, there are very few pauper’s funerals today, and it is again a measure of the esteem with which the deceased was held as to the size and the manner of the funeral, and of the memories held in the passing years. I have written before of the tragedy and trauma we went through as a family after the early death of my sister, dying as she did from leukaemia when that illness was one which you read about in the newspapers. We did not erect a stone or marble memorial, but her face shines in my memory just as if she was still in the next room.

When ordinary people die, we do not, as a rule, set up an Appeal Fund. We do not need to ask for what purpose will the money be requested, what account will be set up at a Bank or Building Society; we do not need to hear if the closest relatives only will be the recipients of that money, or will second cousins, aunts or uncles qualify for a share of the proceeds! People live, people die, even miners, but I for one don’t believe that there should be Appeals, or collections, or any mass demonstrations of ‘Community grief’, because four men died by drowning in a place where they chose to work!

Men and women who bear arms for the Nation’s defence, yes, they are different, but they are also the exception which should prove the rule!

just a few dollars less

By Mike Cunningham On August 5th, 2011 at 11:23 am


I submitted a request for an e-petition to HM Government about an EU Referendum, but it was rejected because, I quote, “there is already an e-petition about this subject. “

Fair enough, there is another e-petition regarding a Referendum, so crowding is perhaps frowned upon…………

BUT hang about; there are some thirty-five (35) petitions and more, on support or disapproval of the Death Penalty; so why the differentiation?

Being John Malkovich

By Mike Cunningham On June 17th, 2011 at 10:00 am

As actors come and go, most of us find our favourites, and few of us are disappointed in our choices. Their work, their talent, entertains us, thrills us, shocks us, or makes us laugh. When I was a young man, a character appeared on our B&W (Black & White) tv screens who epitomised all the legends of the West. Rawhide’s ‘Rowdy Yates’, or to give the actor’s name Clint Eastwood, shone through the electrons with a talent which, even to an untrained eye such as mine, gave some signal of his talent and his future.

But listening this morning to a BBC radio clip which featured John Malkovich, I realised that, through the massive egos which litter the entertainment world, you can find the occasional nugget which proves that some, at least, use their intellect to think of things other that their plays, films or tv series, and how to publicise them. Malkovich is touring with a play which is built around an Austrian rapist/murderer named  Jack Unterweger. who was imprisoned for fifteen years for his crimes, but then fooled (which didn’t take much to achieve) the Austrian ‘Intelligentsia’ that he was reformed, and they clamoured for his release from prison. He exceeded all their expectations, writing a book and also working as a journalist and tv reporter. He was subsequently arrested and charged with eleven more murders, but committed suicide before his trial.

John Malkovich, himself a great actor, who can project a ‘persona’ of evil intent better than most, said something profound during the interview. The Death Sentence, or ‘Capital punishment’ for those of a more squeamish nature was being discussed, especially in respect of America; and Malcovich’s words were rather telling. The interviewer asked if he was content with the Death Penalty, and he replied that ‘there were some people who he would have little heartbreak about’. He also stated that there were many people on Death Row whose cases are very flawed, and they should be looked at once more on appeal. He then stated “The death penalty is a kind of philosphical question, whether it should exist or not. Otherwise, murderers are the final arbiters of life and death, and without the death penalty, it strikes me as being as though society is lacking something when a murderer is the only one who decides whether a person lives or dies”

Do we live in a just society here in Great Britain? Would we be a better society if the death penalty for murder had been retained? Would we have slept sounder if  William Hunter had been given the benefit of a short rope and a long drop? Would we have been able to digest our cornflakes a little easier if the likes of Rosemary West or Ian Brady had been clinically snuffed out, instead of suffering the drawn-out torture inflicted on some of their victims?

By our membership of the European Union, we have submitted to the will of an unelected dictatorship. By our EU membership, we agreed that we should not kill, or plan to kill, any murderer who is found guilty in our criminal courts. The question we should be asking ourselves is simple, have we traded our independence in action and thought for the ‘comfort’ of a supra-national government which itself brooks no dissent. Consider the reaction of the EU bureaucracy when Austria brought in a right-wing party to Government. The immediate imposition of sanctions wasn’t queried in any of the nations’ capitals; no, ‘they are unnacceptable’ was the reaction, because of the ‘Fascist’ associations of the Haider party. It is indeed starnge that the sanctions were slapped upon Austria because they elected a right-wing organisation, but refuse to move at the same time against Italy, despite many of Italy’s politicians having fascist or communist backgrounds!

For my own thinking, I would state that the path of ‘forgiveness’ of ‘reconciliation’, of passive acceptance that the best we can do is lock the killers up is at best barren, at worst useless, because they can always get out, be paroled, be ‘redeemed’. No, the only redemption for a killer is the fact that they will find out what is beyond the great divide of death a lot quicker than if they lived behind bars; if they face a man with a rope and a trapdoor, who will not be budged, who will not give way to special pleading, who will carry out society’s sentence, and remove the killer from our midst!


More Environmental damage done in London!

By ATWadmin On June 20th, 2009 at 4:49 pm

I note that the traffic was very badly held up in Central London as a parade of mawkish ‘supporters’ caravanned the Holy Five families as they brought their 40, 000 signature petition to the door of No. 10. downing Street in yet another attempt to gain a few more column inches for their protest and call for an ‘Enquiry for Hillsborough’.

I would like to protest as well, but my protest would be in support of the thousands of motorists who were stalled in huge traffic congestion, and denied free access to the roads of the Capital because a bunch of people who claim ‘closure’ once more clog the London roads with their false emotions and demands that”someone took responsibility”!

My query is simple; what will any such enquiry reveal? What do the protesters want to happen. As I stated on a previous post allied to this subject, ‘They lived, they died, get on with your life!’. One website claiming to represent a ‘Justice Campaign’ states at the end of one sentence ‘twenty years…….and still no justice.’ They claim that they are fighting against a history of injustice, of cover-up, and collusion.

As my writing colleague Andrew McCann noted on a post at the same time as my own, I don’t see many protesters calling for another enquiry into the Heysel tragedy, but, hey, since the Liverpool mob started that little skirmish, why are we not surprised? The barriers against which 96 were crushed were erected as a direct result of Heysel, so maybe they should all blame themselves, and give the rest of the nation some peace!

Without  a closer knowledge of the people involved, all I would state is the impression I get from their published statements, so-called history timelines and other pages; which is that they are out to blame someone, anyone, preferably in authority, for the loss of their family members, and then sue for anything they can get! If I was to see a statement in print that they are not looking for vast compensation, I would give their calls more time, but as that is possibly the last thing anyone would see from the ‘City which always weeps’, I don’t honestly think I would waste much time on a search!