A man who has been a quadriplegic since he
was 3 is the latest focus of right-to-die news in the US. For about 18 months Dan
Crews, 27, of Antioch, Illinois, has demanded that his ventilator be removed.
But his local hospital has refused. Doctors say that he is depressed and is not
capable of making an informed decision. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and ABC
News both ran features on Mr Crews late last month emphasing the limitations of
his day-to-day life.

“I have no
friends. I have no education. No education prospects. No job prospects. I have
no love prospects,” he told the Journal-Sentinel. “All I want is to
no longer live like this… I feel like I’m the only person in the country who
does not have a way or an option to kill myself.”

He was swamped with letters, emails and
phone calls after his case became public urging him not to die. One woman and
her quadriplegic husband want to travel from Oklahoma to visit him in Illinois
to persuade him that a life of immobility can be fulfilling. Mr Crews is unconvinced.
” It’s been very pleasant, but my mood is the same,” he says.

His life , as described in the newspapers,
seems very dreary. There is little for him to do, they stress, except eat and
watch TV. He is socially isolated. His motorised wheelchair has broken down.

… he spends all
day watching television – a few hours in the morning in bed, and a few hours
sitting upright in a broken chair. Most days he sees only his nurses and his
mom. (Crews’ parents are divorced and his father is remarried).

A major factor in his pessimism is
financial problems. He is running out of the US$4 million he won as a
settlement for his case, which was calculated for 20 additional years of life. Bills
are mounting up. Medicaid will only cover them when he has exhausted his own funds.

What the media fails to pick up is why Mr
Crews’ attitude changed. At one stage, like many other people with
quadriplegia, he felt far more optimistic. He graduated from high school and
earned an associate degree from a local community college. Why has he become so
disheartened? He claims that it stems from his poor quality of life and poor
prospects for improvement. But is it the divorce of his parents? Is it lack of
counselling and psychiatric care? Is it financial stress? As many disability
advocates insist, we cannot abandon people. However sketchy the details, it
does sound like somehow society has failed Mr Crews. ~ Milwaukee Journal
Sentinel, Nov 28
; ABC,
Nov 30

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia.