End-of-life care discussed at nationwide seminar

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End-of-life care discussed at nationwide seminar

After carefully reading what was written on the document, Kim Hee-sook, 62, from Yangcheon District, western Seoul, signed a paper giving her the right to determine her end-of-life care. Her attorney signed the paper as a witness.

“If my health fails and becomes incurable to the extent that I can’t express my opinion about the treatment, I would like the doctor and my family to read what is written here and respect my decision,” read the Declaration of Intent on Medical Treatment that Kim signed.

If Kim lapses into unconsciousness or is confronted by death, the declaration directs Kim’s doctors to stop any form of treatment she is receiving.

“If I can’t communicate with my family or doctors, I would like to face death in the way I want - naturally and solemnly,” Kim said. “That’s why I signed the paper.”

Kim is one of about 100 people who attended a seminar on advance health care directives at Yonsei University’s Bioethics Policy Research Center at Severance Hospital in Sinchon, western Seoul. The seminar is part of a series that began last December in Gwangju and included stops in six more cities across the country. About 1,400 people signed the declarations, excluding people from Seoul.

According to the Bioethics Policy Research Center, among the 1,400 people who signed the declarations, 64.4 percent were women and the rest were men. Moreover, 602 were in their 70s followed by 399 in their 60s and 201 in their 50s.

Sohn Myong-sei, the director of the center, said that the declaration allows people to “face death the way they want without being swayed by family or doctors, while doctors and family can avoid the difficulty of having to decide whether to stop a treatment when a patient is diagnosed with an incurable condition.”

By Park Yu-mi [sharon@joongang.co.kr]
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