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Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative

Background of the Case Study

The case study under discussion is focused on a situation faced by a Christian family. The parents had identical twins, but with the course of time, one of them was diagnosed with acute glomerulonephritis. It is also known as kidney failure that affects people’s lives adversely and leads to lethal outcomes if no treatment is obtained. When the child’s condition worsened, the doctor contacted the parents and advised them to start dialysis, providing a rationale for this decision. However, Mike and his wife did not follow this recommendation.

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They focused on spiritual healing instead. The family resorted to the local church that focused on Christianity. The parents heard that someone managed to walk again due to this kind of treatment and considered that it would be helpful for James. Unfortunately, this option failed, and the family returned to the hospital when the boy’s condition worsened so that the necessity of a kidney transplant occurred. The only person who matched was his brother Samuel. As a result, parents had to decide whether they should allow the other child to become a donor or wait for God’s healing. Thus, the controversy related to Christianity and health should be discussed. In particular, the impact of Christian leaders on patients’ autonomy is to be approached.

The Most Pressing Issues

The discussed case study deals with many issues that deal with Christianity and its attitudes towards different treatment options. What is more, it is significant to consider the fact that the Christian faith is not the same among its followers and can be interpreted differently depending on dominations. Needless to say that those people who believe in Protestantism do not have the same views and rituals as Catholics or Baptists do. These people are rather spiritual, and they all believe in the existence of God and His power.

However, they do not have one and the same point of view. Mainly, the difference can be observed when focusing on the perception of the medical staff and medicine as a whole. Some individuals in the framework of their religion consider that God is the one who created physicians and placed them for the representatives of the general public to improve their well-being. In this way, they believe that God heals them through doctors and accept any interference recommended by them, believing it to be His guidance. As a result, it is normal for them to obtain any required treatment, as it prevents adverse health outcomes and promotes people’s health on behalf of God.

On the other hand, there are religions that do not allow a lot of interventions even if they are likely to save lives. For instance, Jehovah’s followers consider blood transfusion to be a practice that should not be used. Thus, it is rather difficult to speak of a generalized Christian faith because it includes numerous versions. However, it is possible to claim that the majority of them make people face moral and ethical issues connected with healthcare and treatment procedures because they are not aligned with their beliefs.

This problem was experienced by the family from the case study, as James had to suffer and deal with critical complications because his parents’ religion prevented them from following the physicians’ recommendations and accepting appropriate treatment. In addition to that, the parties involved in the case study faced an ethical dilemma connected with Christian beliefs and medical decisions. Both doctors and parents found it difficult to decide whether the other twin, Samuel, needed to provide a kidney to his brother or not. The boy was too young to make his own decision. Physicians have no right to insist on particular interventions. Parents are the ones to deal with problems and to state what kind of treatment they find the most appropriate and want to be used.

Mike’s Decision Making

A lot of people in the world follow particular religions and believe them to play a vital role in their lives. Unfortunately, many of them turn out to be in conflict with healthcare and abandon the majority of medical practices. Religion plays an essential capacity role in the lives of many people and some situations; the religious beliefs of various Christian denominations have always been in conflict with medicine. In other words, religion prevents people from being cured through the restrictions considering medical requirements (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013).

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The problem that is observed in the case study deals with parents’ refusal to treat children in the way proposed by the physician. It can be presupposed that Mike’s decision revealed that he did not believe in the ability of medical staff to save his son. What is more, he denied even the chance of doing it. His religion made Mike think that spiritual healing is better than the medical one and reject an opportunity to practice both of them from the very beginning in order to reach the best possible outcomes.

Even though it was possible to reduce James’ suffering if doctors implemented their interventions, they were not able to do so because of the respect to parents’ decision-making authority. According to this rule, they have no right to work with children without their parents’ permission. However, if they notice some cases of medical neglect, they are expected to report them for the other parties to resolve the issue. After the investigation, the state can order the needed medical treatment or provide a rationale for its canceling.

James’ father decided to abandon medical treatment in favor of the spiritual one because he considered it to be more effective. In general, professionals are encouraged to protect patients’ autonomy and health. As this case deals with life and death, physicians are expected to prevent patients’ suffering and possible complications. However, every situation is to be considered separately. Moreover, no coverage for alternative medicine is provided because funds can align it with the prescribed medical treatment.

Case Analysis

Nowadays, people are rather open to various beliefs. They tend to consider that spirituality is a part of human individuality. It provides people with life purposes and relates to self-existence. In the framework of Christianity, it is expected to deal with all life experiences. Thus, its influence on science and medicine can also be observed, especially when involving in bioethics. Those issues that deal with the manipulation of different biological processes are greatly affected by religion. When focusing on the case study, it cannot be denied that the view on the meaning and value is to be reconsidered.

A lot of attention should be paid to patient autonomy because Mike had to make decisions for his children. The medical staff is expected to focus on these considerations because they are to respect people but not emphasize their health issues. Thus, it is impossible for physicians to ignore autonomy (Ladin, 2016). For example, in the case study, this principle could be observed when Mike refused dialysis. The physician was expected to inform him of the possible consequences of his decision, but he was not supposed to insist on the implication of his recommendations. Thus, a choice is always available.

Sickness and Health

In general, Christians believe that God controls everything including people’s health. He creates diseases and makes people ill in order to reach some purpose and show His power. He can do this if a person did something wrong or if He wants to test one and to see how he/she will behave. In this way, health turns out to be an instrument with the help of which God controls people. It is a gift He provides to guide human beings. Thus, when people’s health condition worsens, they realize that they need to change something and to refer to Him for assistance.

As a Christian, Mike is not expected to follow the physicians’ recommendations. He should worship and pray more, attend a church more often, and ask God to heal his son. He should think that God controls everything and that no medical interventions can improve the situation. Mike should hope that God wants to heal his son through the emphasis made on spirituality. Thus, he should not consider medical treatment for James and should encourage his son to pray for his own health. However, some Christian leaders claim that doctors were created by God and that people who go to them do not lack faith but follow God’s instructions (Barkley Center, 2017). From this perspective, Mike should focus on both medical and spiritual healing at the same time.

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American Academy of Pediatrics. (2013). Conflicts between religious or spiritual beliefs and pediatric care.

Barkley Center. (2017). Christianity on health and illness.

Ladin, K. (2016). Organ donation as a collective action problem: Ethical considerations and implications for practice. AMA Journal of Ethics, 18(2), 156-162.

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