I had found this abstract of a medical publication when we were doing general research on micropreemies early on. Most of these types of things are really dry and scientific, and by just reading the title “Why do we help a micropreemie to live?” I was sure it was going to be unsettling. To my amazement, it was incredibly moving. I tried looking for it while writing the “Choices” post, to show a doctor’s point of view, but wasn’t able to find it. When I stumbled upon it again tonight I thought I would share.
Helping a “micropreemie” to live by aggressive interventions may sometimes seem unnatural. However, utilitarian assessment of benefits derived from lifesaving efforts for a micropreemie is considered inappropriate. The goal in treating premature infants has advanced from fetal salvage to achieving “intact survival”, which represents a new therapeutic target. In this way, the record for lifesaving in extremely low-birthweight infants is continually being broken. Why do we help a micropreemie to live? Moral and ethical emotions are the underlying reasons for the aggressive care devoted to premature infants, including micropreemies. Such human feelings might even be considered the purpose of life. Human emotion is the impetus for aggressive efforts to improve the survival prospects of premature infants. The beautiful and delicate nature of a newborn is compelling. The high-order emotion of empathy for another’s misfortune is also important. Most human emotions are related to an awareness of death, and micropreemies are near death. In Oriental thought, a human being is a growing product of nature. Forces of nature and changes in a living being follow nature’s rules. First and foremost, an individual life is part of the long chain of existence beginning before the self and continuing beyond it. An immature human being, even a newborn, is simultaneously a complete entity and part of nature’s long chain of being, which has a wholeness of its own that affirms a micropreemie’s right to life. A fetus is a member of human society in the sense that there is an overall reverence for life as a quality that lives on. CONCLUSION: The limit that bioethics must not exceed is the sanctity of life. We believe that the birth of a micropreemie is an important and serious event. We profoundly wish that a micropreemie might live and thrive, because we on earth must live with the continual presence and imminence of death.
-Takahashi S, Endo A, Minato M., Department of Pediatrics, Nihon University, Nerima Hikarigaoka Hospital, Tokyo, Japan.