LETTER:When hope tips scales of life and death

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The Independent Online
From Mrs Hazel Morgan

Sir: With reference to Angela Lambert's article "Dear Tim & Bronwen Stewart" (17 July ), I would not presume to comment on the Stewarts' agonising situation, but perhaps more than most I can understand something of their anguish.

Our 18-year-old son, who has Down's syndrome, was rushed into hospital before Christmas with pneumonia. He was not expected to live. We asked for him to receive intensive care. It transpired that he had suffered a series of massive strokes, which threatened his life, but gradually he stabilised.We were then told by the doctors that he would be semi-comatose and might not see, hear or know us. After several weeks it became clear that this prognosis was too gloomy. He left hospital after three-and-a- half months to receive nursing care in a Sue Ryder home. There he enjoys our visits and the friendship of the staff and other residents. He listens to his music. He is tremendously disabled but appears happy to be loved.

Each situation is different, but always the words of one of the intensive care nurses who looked after him initially will reverberate through my head: "There is always hope." I was very dubious at the time, but they proved to be true. It is important that they are put in the equation as life and death issues are debated.

Yours faithfully,

Hazel Morgan

Culford, Suffolk