The concept of futility may mean very different things to a parent
and to a physician. To the physician it may mean that further treatment
will not improve the outcome of the fatal illness and that maintaining
the status quo only delays death. To the parent of the desperately
ill child, the fact that the child is not dead means that the treatment
is not futile. It can be difficult, sometimes, for health care providers who
deal with desperately ill children every day to appreciate a family’s
view that no matter what their child’s condition, even
if that child is in a coma, they still have a living child they
can hold, talk to, and see. While they would, of course, prefer
that their child be healthy again, being comatose is better than being
dead, buried, or cremated, and no longer within parental reach.
There is virtually no therapy these parents would find futile.