Sunday, 27 September 2009

Emergent Infant Baptism

I recently baptized an infant before he died, and the experience made me pull up some of the teachings of the Catholic Church on infant baptism to review in the event anyone questioned me on this incident.

First of all, I asked for the permission of the infant's father beforehand. I was blessed with the opportunity to speak with him shortly before it was obvious that the child would not survive.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church can be accessed online at this website. It has a search engine attached to it, so one can browse the whole document and dive into the text at will.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church(from here on referred to as CCC) discusses baptism in paragraphs 1213 to 1284. The word baptize comes from the Greek word baptizein, which means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature." (CCC 1214)

The CCC gives several examples of the prefigurement of the sacrament of Baptism found in the Old Testament. Noah and the Ark show life starting over after washing away sin, and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea prefigure the liberation from the slavery of sin through baptism. Later, the baptism is prefigured when the Israelites cross over the Jordan to enter the promised land; entering the promised land is symbolic of entry into Heaven. (CCC 1217-1222; they write it far better than I do)

I recall reading somewhere that St. John the Baptist, when he was baptizing in the River Jordan, was baptizing on the 'far' side of the river, so that those who were baptized had to cross back over the Jordan, just as the Israelites did in the Old Testament. This brings up the most important reason for baptism: Jesus Himself insisted on it before starting his ministry.

Baptism of infants is brought up in paragraphs 1250 to 1252, and the main sentences which motivated me are highlighted below. I saw a chance to bring this infant to become a child of God, and I did not think anyone would be able to get to the child before he died.

1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.

1251 Christian parents will recognize that this practice also accords with their role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to them.

1252 The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole "households" received baptism, infants may also have been baptized.

How to Baptize:

There are two things needed for the sacrament: one is water to pour over the head(preferably) of the patient; the other is to say the words of baptism while pouring the water three times over the head of the patient. The words of baptism are:
"N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

When I realized that things were going downhill fast, I turned to one of the nurse anesthetists (CRNA) who was working with me, and asked her to get me some water from the scrub sink. She pointed to a small bowl of water on top of the anesthesia cart. "I got you covered, Doc," she said.

As a footnote, by some miracle, we were able to get this child back to his mother and father, and they were able to hold their son as he died. It was heartwrenching and difficult to talk to the young couple, but I did manage to tell them that their son had been baptized. The experience brought back a flood of memories of losing Theodore, and the desolation which accompanied that loss. The pained expression I saw on the face of this young couple reminded me of the way Carolyn looked after Theodore died.

Friday, 10 July 2009

"No Kill" Nursing Homes

I just discovered that the senator for our region of Pennsylvania, Lisa Boscola, co-sponsored a senate bill 404 that will legalize physician assisted suicide if it is eventually passed. What this will mean is that if grandma is diagnosed with "terminal cancer" and wishes to end her life, she can ask the kind family doctor for a prescription cocktail that will end her life.The Hippocratic Oath which I took in 1985 makes me promise to not give anyone something that would end their life, nor counsel them on how to do it. Most western cultures have prohibited suicide and have laws against it. Both Christian and Jewish theologians have understood suicide to be a grave moral evil. Now in our enlightened age, we are going to change the rules and say it's ok to kill grandma or grandpa. Giving a patient a prescription to end their life is no different than me (a physician) going to K Mart and buying a shotgun and shells, sawing off the barrel for convenience and leaving it at the doorstep of my suffering patient so they can end their life.Does anybody have a problem with this?I am the medical director of two nursing homes and oversee the care of over 200 frail elderly patients. I spend my day attempting to alleviate the pain and suffering that is often experienced in the end stages of life. It is not usually easy, but often labor intensive and emotionally draining at times. However, I view it as my privilege to be entrusted to care for the most vulnerable of our society and would want no other job. But is if this bill becomes law, some will view it as cheaper and more convenient to encourage patients to end their life. The value of a older suffering person's life will drop faster than the stock market as it has in the European countries that have embraced PAS and EuthanasiaI am thinking of asking the administrators of my nursing homes to designate them as "No Kill Nursing Homes" just as they do with dog shelters, so the patients can be assured that they will be cared for and not put out of their misery. How can the hand that heals also be the hand that kills? How will patients trust me?The fact that most people I have spoken to in the medical profession have no idea that this bill was proposed back in March is frightening. This is not unintentional. Will we be the next Oregon or Washington state?In the next several months I am hoping to organize some effort to educate those around us to Physician Assisted Suicide and hopefully, by the time the bill is put up for a vote, or a public referendum, the public should be well-informed of this evil. The trick is to get to the public before the well-oiled and funded euthanasia lobbying machine gets to our legislators. Let your senators and representatives know how you feel about this.If you wish to let SenatorLisa Boscola (Lehigh Valley Region) know about your feelings towards this bill and her co-sponsorship of it, email her

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Doctor Poem

Junior Doctor

Each demand 'top priority' but usually mundane
I'm trying to get through each one in vain
Doing nothing well, making mistakes
Not even taking any breaks
I look worse than ill
Can't I have a pill?

I can't think - Just tell me what to do!
"You're the Doctor - we're supposed to say that to you!
But while you're here; sign here, and here...
We've done it already, have no fear!"
But this D-dimer is a thousand, why did you ask for that?
Now he needs a V/Q and clexane stat.

I need the toilet, but my bleeper sounds
I don't care, I need the sanctuary a cubical allows
Until it shouts from under my pants:
It turns out to be someone who's slipped in the rain
So I trudge back to the other side of the hospital again

"Doc - where have you been?
There's five patients waiting - none of them seen!"
Who do I start with: the one with gangrene?
Or unconscious? Or whose relatives scream:
"You're a Doctor? You're too young...
Where's the Consultant? He's the important one!"

Someone just died in Sideroom One
Perhaps I could nip in and certify them?
Four minutes of listening for life
Absolute quiet - forgetting the strife.
Pupils fixed and dilated, no furrowed brow
No more demands that life would allow.

I'm wakened from my trance by an alarm
A drip is obstructed - in an oedematous arm
How will I ever get another one in?
Can't we just stop it? Give in?
I'm at my wits end but there's more to come
I'll probably end up examining someone's bum.

My watch says three hours longer, from bad to worse
Till its confiscated by an Infection Control Nurse
"Bare below elbow" they say as they go
A suspendable offence? I do hope so...
"Excuse me, Dr Doyle?" A nurse says all too soon
Yes, I reply, with a sense of impending doom

"Did you prescribe this?" Yes, Co-amoxiclav.
"But the patient's allergic and now has a rash."
Oh, bugger. Incident Report Form. Then Adrenaline IM.
(And if I have time, I should say sorry to them.)
Doing nothing well. Making blunders
Survival overtaking hopes of achieving wonders.

But then from a patient I get a smile and a tear
And suddenly it all seems so clear
"Thank you so much Doctor" they remark
"It's just my job" I retort, but inside there's a spark
I am grinning from ear to ear, its the best
Conscience so clean it could pass the UV test

Monday, 9 March 2009

Obama Lifts Restrictions on Stem Cell Research, "Science" Will Guide

As expected, President Obama continued to advance the culture of death by removing restrictions of government funding of stem cell research.  Despite the fact that there has not been any meaningful advance in this area and given that there is an alternative.

stem-cell-harvest WASHINGTON (AP) - From tiny embryonic cells to the large-scale physics of global warming, President Barrack Obama urged researchers on Monday to follow science and not ideology as he abolished contentious Bush-era restraints on stem-cell research. "Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values," Obama declared as he signed documents changing U.S. science policy and removing what some researchers have said were shackles on their work.

"It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda - and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology," Obama said.

You can be sure that the only political agenda that will not be served by the "scientific data" will be conservative, religious or moral.  Besides, if Obama really means it, where would this leave AlGore?

Saturday, 28 February 2009

A Time for New Martyrs?

Those of  us in the field of health care may come under additional pressure from this pro-abortion administration and congress.  According to the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration moved on Friday to undo a last-minute Bush administration rule granting broad protections to health workers who refuse to take part in abortions or provide other health care that goes against their consciences.

The Department of Health and Human Services served notice on Friday, through a message to the White House Office of Management and Budget, that it intends to rescind the regulation, which was originally announced on Dec. 19, 2008, and took effect on the day President Obama took office.

When the administration publishes official notice of its intent, probably next week, a 30-day period for public comment will begin, after which the regulation can be repealed or modified.

The rule prohibits recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or assist in abortions or sterilization procedures because of their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.” Its supporters included the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association, which represents Catholic hospitals.

In praising the Bush administration last fall, Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, said that in recent years “we have seen a variety of efforts to force Catholic and other health care providers to perform or refer for abortions and sterilizations.”

But opponents of the regulation, including the American Medical Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and Planned Parenthood, said it could have voided state laws requiring insurance plans to cover contraceptives and requiring hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims. It could also allow drugstore employees to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, critics of the regulation have said.

Fascism comes slowly sometimes.  One step at a time.  And it must be resisted by decent people of all faiths.  Some may have to suffer a "green martyrdom" rather than to submit to this type of intimidation.  Catholic hospitals may need to close. 

The pro-abortion crowd is pleased.

“Dismantling this dangerous rule is a historic step toward preserving profoundly significant health care rights for women, and vital constitutional rights for all,” Mr. Blumenthal said.

Reaction to the move on Friday made it clear that the issue remains an emotional one. “We are encouraged by the Obama administration’s recent effort towards ensuring that patients have the ability to access necessary, widely used and accepted medical services,” said Mary Jane Gallagher, president and chief executive of the National Planning and Reproductive Health Association.

Fellow Catholics who voted for Obama you have your change, but with little hope for a better America.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

New Member Welcome

Welcome to our newest member, Paulinus, who blogs from across the pond at We look forward to your posts (and given the recent activity, we look forward to any post!)

Best Wishes.