A Johns Hopkins University faculty member recounts the agonizing decision he had to make for a parent unable to communicate with the world.
Dad was in the middle of making coffee when his heart stopped. From the next room of the house they shared in San Antonio, his new fiancée, Robin, heard the thud when he hit the ground. He was purple by the time she made it to his side.
Robin, a career nurse, immediately started CPR and called 911. When the EMTs arrived and took over trying to beat Dad's heart, she called my sister, who then called me. Sis was a mess, barely able to get out, "It's Dad. I think he's dying. He might be dead." Confused, I asked her what happened, and in a traumatized voice, all she could say was, "I heard it over the phone, Travis. I heard them shock him."
When Robin arrived at the hospital that night, the attending physician told her it was time to let him go. Dad wasn't breathing on his own, so they had to put him on a ventilator. But there was no use continuing to breathe for him, the doctor explained. He had been gone too long. He wasn't coming back.