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English Text Version of Living Wills Article
Appearing in Forum Turkish American Newspaper
Living Wills
                                                                            If you’
ve ever been to a hospital or nursing home and sat
next to someone on life support, the experience can
make you look at life differently. It can make you
appreciate things you take for granted, such as the
ability to feed yourself or take care of basic bodily
needs. It can also make you think about how far you
would want a hospital to go in trying to keep you alive if
you found yourself, God forbid, in a vegetative state
without the consciousness or ability to make decisions
for yourself.
Deciding whether or not to sustain life support for a loved one has to be the most painful decision a husband, wife, or
child could ever have to make. This issue dominated the nation’s headlines a few weeks ago with the sad story of
Terri Schiavo. Terri Schiavo was left on life support in 1990 as the result of a heart attack. Court appointed doctors
said Terri Schiavo had no consciousness and was not aware of what was taking place around her. The story
culminated in an intense legal battle that caught the attention of the White House, Congress, and the Vatican. Terri’s
family argued for a feeding tube that sustained her life to be left in her while her husband argued for the feeding tube
to be removed. Lawyers for both sides argued the issue and ultimately, her feeding tube was removed. She died
some thirteen days later on March 31, 2005.

There was no living will in place for Terri Shiavo. Had there been, there would have been clear instructions as to what
she wished to be done. A living will is a legal instrument that provides instructions as to what life prolonging
procedures a person wishes to be used in the event he or she becomes terminally ill, injured, or unconscious.
Obviously, it is drafted at a time when the person is of sound body and mind. A living will lists procedures a person
does or does not wish to be done. These can include:

 - Artificial feeding through a tube
 - Hydration
 - Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
 - Kidney dialysis
 - Surgery
 - Drugs
 - Antibiotics
 - Blood transfusions

A living will can be written to take effect upon a patient becoming terminally ill, permanently unconscious (such as in a
vegetative state), or other specified state of existence. Although states may have different detailed requirements for
living wills, most states require that a living will be in writing, signed by the patient, and witnessed by two people. Some
states require notarization. A patient is free to change their living will during their lifetime. A patient may also revoke
the living will by completing a revocation of living will. If you would like to learn more about how a living will can be of
value to you, feel free to contact me at (718) 224-9824, t.akpinar@verizon.net, or www.benimavukatim.com.

© 2005 Timur Akpinar