Withdrawal of Life Support


Withdrawalof Life Support

Withdrawalof Life Support

Withdrawal of lifesupport is a term used to describe the ceasing of the services thatare used to keep critically ill patients alive. Life support is oftenexperienced in Intensive Care Units (ICUs). Almost ninety percent(90%) of all ICU deaths have occurred as a result of life supportwithhold or withdrawal. In most countries, most deaths in the ICU arepreceded by a decision to withdraw life support. However, thesedecisions vary with a group’s or country’s spiritual and culturalpreferences. In fact, many cultures respect the rights of theirmembers to live.


Cuba is aCaribbean country. It is a Hispanic nation with a rich multiethnicbackground. Most Cubans are predominantly Christians by faith andspecifically of Roman Catholicism spirituality. They uphold a respectto the entitlement of a person to live, regardless of his/her healthor social status. Usually, a critically ill patient is placed in theICU and his/her family works with physicians to ensure the patient iskept in check. Therefore, a patient is kept alive at all costs untilthe family decides what to do with the situation. However, death(life support withdrawal) is never the option and various familieswould want their sick patient to remain alive until natural deathtakes its course (RespectingDiversity).

In many Hispaniccommunities, the eldest daughter is the healthcare decision maker ofthe family who takes care of her aging parents but in overall, thefather is the economic head of the home. Extended family members tendto visit the patient at this challenging times. It is culturallyaccepted to express compassion and concern during such tryingmoments. It is also a common practice to put rosary beads, crossesand burning candles near an ill patient. Pictures of Saints are alsopresent near the patient. For instance, the picture of St. Josephis usually placed in death situations while that of Our Lady ofLourdes is associated with bodily illnesses (RespectingDiversity).

Normally, when aphysician has declared a patient dead, the family will contact theirpreferred funeral home. The funerals are done in a Catholic orSocialist way depending with the deceased family. Dead bodies arewell dressed and groomed so as to take a lively, healthy and pleasantview and in deep connection with the mourners (RespectingDiversity).

So, in conclusion,we are able to see that death is a major setback in the Cubanculture, and thus, the withdrawal of life support is considered anirreligious and uncultured decision.


RespectingDiversity: AGuide for Addressing the Unique End-of-Life Beliefs and CulturalPerspectives of Our Patients and Their Families: Hospiceof Cincinnati:Experience Compassionate Care.