Herald: You can delay death ….

You can delay death ….

03 Feb 2019 06:03am IST
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03 Feb 2019 06:03am IST

On a trip back home to his home state, Dr Jose Filipe Monteiro took the time to create awareness about a health related issue that is not only relevant to the Goan community but something that many do not know about in detail. Herald spoke to Dr Monteiro, son of the soul who is based in Portugal, about his recent book titled Dysthanasia- ‘Delaying the process of Death through treatment Stubbornness’. NICOLE REMEDIOS takes a closer look

here was a talk held recently, where by Dr Jose Filipe Monteiro spoke to the people of Goa about 'Dysthanasia, iedelaying the process of death and its relevance to the Goan society. This talk that was co-hosted by Clube Vasco Da Gama together with Clube Nacional and Group Alegria was well received and it helped create awareness about Dysthanasia
Dr Jose Filipe Monteiro, MD, MSc, is a retired Consultant Pneumologist and Head of the Respiratory Intensive Care Unit at the Pneumology Department of Santa Maria University Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal and was an Assistant Lecturer (retired) at the Faculty of Medicine of Lisbon University.
His book caught the imagination of a good crowd. Dysthanasia- ‘Delaying the process of Death through treatment Stubbornness’ is a book on how the use of technology in clinically irreversible settings can result in the undue delay of the death process.It is a book to be read by all those who are concerned with death in modern societies and particularly with medical ethics and professional conduct. The book also apprehends other major questions about life and death.
It is to be noted that Dr Monteiro is also the author of several research papers in journals such as Respiratory Care, Clinical Ethics, Open Journal of Philosophy, Portuguese Journal of Pulmonology, Acta Médica Portuguesa (Scientific Journal of the Portuguese Medical Association) and Journal of the Portuguese Medical Association. He is also the co-editor of the book Gases no Sangue [Blood Gases], and the author of chapters in various textbooks, a treatise, and an atlas of pneumology.
Monteiro had begun writing Dysthanasia in 2017.His perspective behind writing this book justifies that knowledge of Dysthanasia should be shared and propagated. “It is the prime duty of technophile and science experts to enrich and distribute research, solutions and statistics.” admits Monteiro.
What is Dysthanasia? While most of us are unaware of this concept, Dysthanasia is nothing but a term generally used when a person is seen to be kept alive artificially in a condition where, they cannot survive, sometimes even for some ulterior motive. The impressive advances in medical technology in the last half-century have helped to save thousands of lives that would have been lost due to organ failures. 
Through Greek adaption, the word Dysthanasia literally means ‘making death difficult’.
According to Monteiro’s, Life has value, death is valueless; but in cases of Dysthanasia it is hard to conclude a decision of either maintaining the patient or withdrawing.
The book ‘Dysthanasia: Delaying the process of Death through the treatment Stubbornness’- highlights the various facets of the controversial ethical dilemma of the end of life. It provides a historical background to this discussion, its philosophical connections, and the perspective of various religions on the journey along treatment obstinacy.The book consists of fifteen chapters. “Throughout its chapters, the book helps the reader to see and understand this problem from a holistic perspective”, adds Monteiro.
While writing the book, one of the author’s most favorite chapters was ‘The Philosophical Underpinnings of Dyshanasia’. The chapter covers topics on the Phenomenology of knowledge, dialects of techno-science, conflict of values, existentialism and metaphysics, and defensive medicine.
Over the years, Monteiro has come across a number of patients and the difficulty that lies in comforting and choosing the treatment for them cannot be debated. In the Author’s Foreword Monteiro describes the discomfort and uneasiness felt on treating patients on the end-of-life stage. He descriptively says, “Medicine is not science, It is not certain, it just delivers a probable outcome”. It all depends on the physician’s cognitive capacities and experiences. It is his/her duty to decide what procedures should be carried out for each following patients with chronic disorders.
In Monteiro’s Unit at Lisbon, he realized that patients, who had spent larger than average overall days at the hospital, didn’t survive. Also, the resource spent on these kinds of patients was high. “The doubt on this problem of ‘when’ and ‘How’ to shift the patient from cure to care was running in my mind for quite a long time and it finally cleared after I completed MSc in Bioethics”, says Monteiro.
In his conclusion to the effects of Dysthanasia, the author expounds the ethical concerns related to it, where every human has the dignity to die in peace.
Apart from the passion of writing these books which are necessary for scientific study today, Monteiro is a proud Goan. He engages himself in other activities like talks on peculiar topics one of such called- Why is St Francis Xavier called ‘Goencho Saheb’? Assuring his love for Goan culture and diversity, he walked down the streets of Lisbon that were given names of freedom fighters from Goa; and spoke about its significance to pedestrians and passerby’s. Monteiro believes that the capacity Goans have to adopt situations is fantastic; which similarly in writing the book will help them adopt and learn the terms and concerns regarding Dysthanasia.

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