American Journal of Bioethics.

CPR and Ventricular Assist Devices: The Challenge of Prolonging Life Without Guaranteeing Health

It’s fitting that the ethical challenges raised in this, our Valentine’s Day issue, resonate in a mythic love story. Eos, titan of the dawn, fell in love with a mortal man, Tithonus. Because she could not bear to lose him, she pleaded with Zeus to grant him immortal life but forgot to ask for immortal youth, so he withered, unable to die but too fragile to live. Like Eos, our two target articles suggest that the current application of two heroic cardiac interventions, the widespread use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the implantation of ventricular assist devices (VAD) in patients with end-stage heart failure, may reflect a medical ethos too enamored of preserving life without giving enough mindfulness to the burden on patients and families of survivorship in a debilitated or devastated state. How do we appropriately prolong life and health, while guarding against making Eos’ mistake?

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Volume 17, Issue 2
February 2017

Target Articles.

LVAD-DT: Culture of Rescue and Liminal Experience in the Treatment of Heart Failure Frances K. Barg, Katherine Kellom, Tali Ziv, Sarah C. Hull, Selena Suhail-Sindhu & James N. Kirkpatrick
Irrational Exuberance: Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation as Fetish Philip M. Rosoff & Lawrence J. Schneiderman