Page 1, 19th February 1993

19th February 1993
Page 1
Page 1, 19th February 1993 — Bland option not only choice

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Bland option not only choice

by Murray White

A CATHOLIC woman who cares for her severely brain-damaged husband at home has spoken out against doctors who she fears "brainwash" relatives into believing similar cases are hopeless.

Dena Tombs, from Loneon, told the Catholic Herald this week about her "horrified" reaction to the House of Lords ruling allowing Hillsborough disaster victim Tony Bland to die. "You have to say that life is worth living and it is up to society to do more for people regardless of how ill or disabled they are," she said.

Law Lords ruled that doctors treating 22-year-old coma patient Tony Bland could withdraw his food without fear of prosecution. The move was greeted with anger by pro-life groups who warn it could open the floodgates to euthanasia.

Catholic doctors this week said that several such "helpless" people are cared for at home by relatives. The Guild of Catholic Doctors, in a statement, decried the "failure of the Courts to Pecognise the vital distinction between basic care and treatment."

The Guild has vowed to oppose any attempts to bring "this confusion" on the Statute books. Dr Anthony Cole, a spokesman for the Guild, said the financial arguments had been "greatly overplayed".

The Catholic bishops' conference secretariat this week heard evidence from doctors and others in the care field, following Cardinal Basil Hume's call for an urgent study into the implications of the Bland case.

Mrs Tombs, 32, has been caring for her 31-year-old husband Alan, at home since December. An anaesthetic accident during a routine operation in 1987 left him with severe brain damage.

He occasionally smiles and laughs at cartoons, but Dena has to manage all his daily routines. Only a financial settlement last year has allowed her the independence to give up work and look after him full-time.

"I'm not perfect, but my faith is important. It has meant there was never a time when I did not want to care for Alan. You cannot get to a point where you think his life is not of value," she said.

Mrs Tombs said she sympathised with Tony Bland's parents, but was concerned that relatives are often very easily swayed by doctors.

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