May 28, 2024

Italy supports feeding coma patients

Terri Schiavo would not have died in Italy, at least after a recent decision by its National Bioethics Committee. The committee decided that artificial nutrition and hydration must not be suspended if patients have normal vital signs and breathe independently, even if they are not conscious. Bioethicist Claudia Navarini explained that food and water are not special medical treatment but normal care.

The relevance of the decision was dramatically highlighted by a 38- year-old Italian’s return to consciousness after two years in a coma. In comments relayed by his brother, Salvatore Crisafulli claims that he “understood everything and cried in desperation” while trapped inside his body. A neurologist at the Royal Infirmary at Newcastle, in the UK, told the Guardian that the man may have been suffering from locked-in syndrome and might not have been in a coma.