Chapter 10 : Care of the Dying

Section 5. Case Study

Name: Anne Green

Case: Robert Wendland

Description: In 1993, Robert Wendland of Stockton, CA, rolls his truck at high speed in a solo accident and he suffers major brain injuries. In a short time he regains consciousness, but is severely disabled. An independent doctor says Robert is minimally conscious, but can't interact with his environment in a proactive way. His own doctor says Robert will never be able to walk, talk, feed himself, eat, drink, or control his bowel and bladder function, and he is kept alive by a feeding tube. Robert hasn't signed a health care power of attorney or had significant discussions about his medical treatment wishes. To obtain authority to make treatment decisions for him, his wife, Rose, goes to court and becomes his conservator. Two years after the accident, Rose requests that the feeding tube be removed, and that Robert be allowed to die. His mother, Florence, objects and a court battle ensues. Robert dies of pneumonia three weeks before the case is settled in favor of his mother.


Information regarding this case:,8816,102966,00.html


Religious, Medical, Legal, Philosophical Commentary

University of South Carolina e-Journal (co-author is co-founder of the USC Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities):

California Catholic Conference:

American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California:

American Medical Association/American Medical News:



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Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2002. All Rights reserved.

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