Tuesday 16 July 2019

Matt Cooper on his parents' deaths: 'I was twice asked most difficult question an only child can face'

Matt Cooper
Matt Cooper
Matt Cooper
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

BROADCASTER Matt Cooper has revealed he has twice faced the most difficult question of whether he wanted to consent to a 'do-not-resuscitate' order for his parents.

In an emotional comment piece in today’s Irish Daily Mail – “I realise I’m shaking as I write this” – the popular Today FM presenter says he twice consented, after lengthy discussions with his parents' doctors.

“Twice I’ve been confronted by a doctor with the most horrible and difficult of questions: Do you want to give us a ‘do-not-resuscitate’ consent?,” he writes. 

“On both occasions, this question involved my parents.

“As an only child, the decision fell to me.”

His father was 83 years old and suffered from emphysema. His mother was 76, but had suffered a number of strokes.

The questions were put to him six years apart – and he consented to a DNR each time, after talking with doctors about his parents’ chances of survival, and their likely quality of life if resuscitation was successful.

“Did I make the correct decision either time? That’s something with which I had to wrestle each time,” he writes

“I have to believe that I did or the guilt would be overwhelming.”

His father was the first to die – and his mother was, at that stage, already incapacitated by a severe stroke so it was not appropriate to ask her the DNR question.

“In my father’s case it was clear that he was ready to die, indeed wanted his agony to end,” the Today FM broadcaster writes. 

“He had fallen away to just over six stone in weight, suffered from a multitude of ailments brought on by his deteriorating condition and was begging for pain relief.”

His mother was in St Patrick’s Hospital, and had a series of strokes which progressively take away her speech and movement.

After the final stroke she was taken to Cork University Hospital, and Matt was asked – during that final visit – the resuscitation question as it became clear that she was unlikely to recover, and if she did, she would have no discernible quality of life.

“Hence the question I was asked and my reluctant consent to the recommendation that resuscitation in the event of further deterioration, while possible, was not advisable,” he writes. 

Matt said he was writing about the deeply personal matter after a debate started in the UK over whether seriously-ill cancer people should be rushed to hospital in the vain attempt to fend off death or whether it would be more comfortable and appropriate for them to remain at home.

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