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Prince Friso - British versus Dutch Law on When It Is Time to Stop Life Support?

Posted Aug 31 2012 9:22pm
Prince Friso  (of the Dutch Royal Family) has been in a coma for six months after he was caught in an avalanche while skiing in the Austrian resort of Lech.  The prince had been buried for 25 minutes, followed by a 50-minute CPR to treat his cardiac arrest.  The prince remains at a British hospital.

The six month point is key temporal threshold.  A medical ethics specialist at the University of Rotterdam Erasmus Hospital said: "The six month point is a critical boundary. Up until that point you always hope for signs of improvement."  ( Austrian Times )

Accordingly, Netherlands senator and medical ethicist Heleen Dupuis observes an interesting difference between the UK and the Netherlands.  She stated:  "It's questionable whether the prince will ever have a normal life again. . . .  I understand that the chances are extremely small. Had the prince been sent to a Dutch hospital, doctors would probably have turned off the life support systems because there is such a slim possibility that he will ever recover."  ( London Evening Standard ; The Australian

The Netherlands has had a law, since 2002,  that allows doctors to end treatment if a victim’s suffering is deemed to be “interminable and unbearable.”

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