Elective Amputations for a Better Life

by Christopher Paul on May 16, 2012

This boycotting of the NY Times is becoming harder and harder – especially when you have a guy like Kyle Baxter linking to interesting things. This time, he links to a story of how some people are electing to amputate (or in most cases, extend an existing amputation) to improve their quality of life. It sounds crazy but it makes sense in a meta-phsyical way if one’s life is at risk or, if after an accident or cancer treatment, the quality of one’s existence is forever altered for the worse.

As Kyle notes in his comments on the article, prosthetics have come a long way. Carbon fibers, microchips, silicone flesh, and motor relays are just what’s out there, now. Just this morning, I read a paralyzed woman was given a microchip in her brain to control a robotic arm; there’s no reason that can’t be applied to artificial limbs.

But it has to be a very surreal decision. Electing to amputate to save one’s life from cancer might not be such an easy choice as one might think; I imagine there are emotions surrounding the success rate, the change in lifestyle, etc. that really make you wonder what’s the better option. Once you go through the initial amputation, it might not be as hard to make the second choice to go further. But it goes against every natural instinct to survive and it can’t be easy to turn it off for elective surgery which speaks nothing of the costs to consider.

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