Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The price of life…

I’m back! Article about flying patients around soon. With photographic evidence… But first.

Helping with the Whipples the other day got me thinking.

The patient in question has a really bad Pancreatic Carcinoma and has quite severe abdominal pain. The prognosis is poor. Probably 3 months. By doing this palliative whipples (you can do the op for other reasons) - she will first need to recover, but then should have less pain.

The catch is - she is still going to die. We have not solved her cancer problem. We have probably extended her life by 9 months.

Here’s the second catch. She has no medical aid. All the theatre costs, ICU, ward stay, doctor and anaethetist will be paid out of her pocket! It could come to a quiet R100k.

Now is that worth it? Many would say yes. You can’t put a price on life can you? But I’m skeptical.

If I had pancreatic cancer, and I had 3 months to live, I wouldn’t want to spend my money having a huge operation, whiling away the time, drugged up in hospital – just for a few months. Remember, you don’t just skip out happy the next day – it takes TIME to recover from hefty procedures.

I’d rather take my wealth and spend it lavishly to live my remaining days on a deserted island somewhere.

So I told the surgeon…”If you ever open me up, and see the pancreatic tumour, please close me back up and send me packing to the Bahamas!”.

I don’t know if I’m right. But it sure got me thinking.


Bongi said...

then i'm also sceptical. i think that's too much for too little. what about a bypass or a simple stent? in her case probably just as effective and much cheaper. anyway i wasn't there so i can't really critiseze the guy.

SA Doc said...

In her case unfortunately, nothing would have worked. It is was Whipples (which is kind of a bypass) or nothing...