Developmentally Handicapped Family Member: Do Not Resuscitate Orders

by Donna Kirk on March 17, 2013

Matthew swallowed a rubber glove in 1993 when he lived at Oaklands Regional Centre, a residence in Oakville for children and adults with developmental disabilities. The glove lodged in his intestine and infected the bowel and surrounding area. Matthew became dangerously ill and was admitted to hospital.

Although he used universal signs to communicate, Matthew couldn’t speak, read or write. My husband and I signed the consent for life-saving surgery.

“Could you also sign here for DNR orders?” The surgeon pointed to a dotted line at the bottom of another piece of paper. I asked what that meant.

Do Not Resuscitate.

I told him I still didn’t understand. I replied that Matthew was only twenty-three years old. He had a long life ahead of him. My husband and I and his two siblings adored him.

The doctor explained that in these cases there was always a request asked for a DNR order.

These cases?

In Matthew’s case, I saw that hovering order as an impediment to a best effort.

“Would you have mentioned DNR orders if you were operating on Matthew’s brother or sister?” I asked.

By his expression, I knew he had understood my question.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Hedgecock July 6, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Donna, All I can say is “Wow.” What a life. I am enjoying reading about your memories of Matthew.

Laura Hedgecock

PS. Got here via LinkedIn !


Donna Kirk July 6, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Thank you Laura for reading the posts and your comments.



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