Samuel Golubchuk's dilemma

January 15, 2008 09:00 AM

Perhaps you have not heard much about Samuel Golubchuk. He is a senior citizen in Winnipeg, Canada whose life is literally hanging by a thread as I write.

The 84-year-old gentleman's doctors have been attempting for the last two weeks to remove his food, fluids and respirator while his family is working very hard to honor Samuel's wishes and continue his basic care. After all, they argue, food and oxygen are not extraordinary care but provide basic human comfort.

The story took a twist last Friday when a courtroom heard arguments from the family attorney to the effect that if it were not for the court's intervention in the case Samuel would be dead today.

What is most distressing about Samuel's case, which is not the first of its kind, is that the hospital's doctors are fighting the family for the right to remove comfort care to cause Samuel's death. And as Alexander Schadenberg , a pro-life leader of Canada's Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (), has pointed out, the Golubchuk family is facing incredible legal expense while Samuel continues to improve, thus defying the gloom and doom doctors who are making every effort possible to kill him. 

Canada's EPCC is currently tracking this case and providing whatever support they can for the family. But what is needed most at this time is pressure that should come from pro-life people the world over who oppose the direct killing of innocent people whose only crime is that they are older and frail.

In Samuel's case, the place to protest is the Salvation Army Grace Hospital, Attn: Ms. Gwen Greig, 300 Booth Drive, Winnipeg MB R3J 3M7. You can email Ms. Greig at or fax her at 204-837-0545

As you think about Samuel and those in the same situation he is currently facing, it is imperative to put his case in the context of what it means to have a "futile care" policy in place in a health care institution. You see, it is the "futile care" policy that threatens Samuel's life at this point; the same sort of policy that has affected newborn children in Texas and older patients elsewhere in this country.

It seems odd to me that doctors would impose their will on family members in an effort to deny basic comfort care to a patient of any age. After all, what does that word "futile" mean? Apparently to many members of the medical profession, it is a synonym for "quality of life" which means, in plain English, that some in the medical profession are using their expertise to play God in the care of their patients.

Deciding who should die, when they should die and how is not the role of a physician--at least it was not for many years. In this age of "rights" and "choices" it seems that common sense has been replaced by policies designed to save money, empty beds and rid the medical community of difficult cases.

As Rabbi Y. Charytan said when Samuel's case first came to the media's attention last December, ""...we are not allowed to hasten death." Rabbi Charytan said he told hospital officials that if they remove life support from Mr. Golubchuk it, "is a sin and not acceptable."

Please remember Samuel and his family in your prayers.

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