A few months ago I wrote about an “extremes of humanity” example – a badass, eye-patch-wearing ex-Seal conservative running for office vs. a 30-something millennial dope suing his parents because they wanted to kick him out of their house because he’s a worthless drain on society.
Well here’s another one, this time on the subject of having a baby.
On one side of the ledger is the most American story of the year so far: the tale of Robert and Maggie Griffin and the birth of their third child. The couple are conservatives, and Christians, and when Maggie suddenly found herself going into labor unexpectedly, they stopped at the first available building, which turned out to be a Chick Fil A restaurant. While the place was technically closed at the time, some employees let the pregnant woman in to use the bathroom.
When she found that the baby was coming, the father asked for some towels, and he ended up delivering the baby right then and there. (If by “delivering,” you mean “catching.”) The American points in this story are off the charts: conservative parents (check), pro-life enough to be having their third child (check), Christians (check) giving birth in a famously conservative & Christian-owned restaurant (check).
Oh yeah. And the garment the father used to initially clean his newborn off with, which I swear I am not making up? A “Trump 2020” t-shirt he had been wearing.
Also, Chick Fil A has now offered that child free food for life, but quickly countered that potential move toward creating a freeloading socialist (although that wouldn’t be likely, in this family) by offering little Grace (yes, her name is “Grace” — check) a job when she turns 14.
As the father said in an interview with Michael Knowles, the only way this story could have been more American would have been if a bald eagle flew into the Chick Fil A bathroom and cut the umbilical cord with one of its mighty, patriotic talons.
Now let’s go to the left side of the spectrum, to that great example of compassionate socialized medicine, the British National Health Service. You may remember them from such stories as, “Desperately Ill Patients Wait For Beds in Hospital Hallways for Days,” “Families Forced to Bring Linens & Basic Supplies for Hospitalized Loved Ones,” and “The British National Health Service is in Crisis: What Else is New?”
The NHS has always typified the typical maladies of socialized medicine: the well-oiled efficiency of the DMV, the courteous customer service of the TSA, the fiscal transparency of the Bernie Madoff organization, and the all-around fantastic performance of Venezuela (new national motto: “We were rich 20 years ago, and now we’re starving! Please don’t let Bernie Sanders try to help us anymore!”)
But lately the NHS has added a new wrinkle to the cavalcade of leftist miseries: they seem to really want to preside over the deaths of babies. I mean, they REALLY want to. Like, they’ll spend tons of time and money, and fight the parents in court, and suffer inevitable PR nightmares, just to maintain the bullying control that will allow them to ensure that seriously ill infants in their care will “die with dignity” in the tender embrace of the State. Rather than, for example, being allowed to go to other countries or clinics who are willing to try other treatments.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Sure, the internet agrees that Martin is a Hilarious Genius™, and if I need to know whether it is time to stop mocking fake Indian Lizzy Warren, he’s the guy I would go to to find out. (Spoiler alert: It is definitely not time. #wemustneverstopmockingher) But what does he know about medicine? Surely he is exaggerating the flaws of the NHS.”
Au contraire, my skeptical friend. (And don’t call me “Shirley.”) I know it is hard to believe, but Google the cases of Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard, for two recent examples. Both are tragic, and involve infants with devastating diagnoses of different sorts. The parents in each case ended up begging for the chance to try alternative treatments, and ultimately for the chance to take their child to other countries or other institutions for those treatments.
Gard’s parents found a NY neurologist with an experimental treatment, but as his condition deteriorated, the NHS and the neurologist thought that he would no longer be a candidate for the treatment. Here I quote a summary of the case: “Charlie’s parents still wanted to try the experimental treatment and raised funds for a transfer to a hospital in New York. In February 2017, [the NHS hospital] asked the High Court to override the parents’ decision, questioning the potential of nucleoside therapy to treat Charlie’s condition.”
Alfie Evans’ case got even more attention. As his condition deteriorated, he was granted citizenship by Italy so that he could be flown – at no expensive to the generous socialists at the NHS, who are super-concerned that British taxpayers not be taken advantage of by greedy parents who selfishly want to try all treatments for their gravely ill children – there for treatment. Even the pope himself appealed for Alfie’s release. The NHS responded by saying, “F” the pope!” (Not their exact words. But that was the sentiment.)
The family lost every appeal. By this time, Alfie had been on ventilators for a long time, and the NHS doctors confidently predicted that he could not live for more than a few hours without them. After one more lost appeal, Alfie was taken off of the ventilator. Then, as one report put it, “Contrary to all the expectations of the doctors, Alfie continued to breathe independently.”
He fought on for five days, before dying.
Now I am not arguing that the parents in either case were right, and that their children would have been cured — or even substantially helped – by the long-shot treatments they were seeking for them. And no, it doesn’t prove anything that Alfie Evans lived for 5 days after the doctors said he would be lucky to make it for 5 hours without a breathing machine. To paraphrase a famous thick-ankled philosopher, “So he died in 5 days instead of 5 hours. What difference, at this point, does it make?”
On the other hand, consider the case of Ashya King, an 8-year-old with a brain tumor. In August of 2014 he underwent successful surgery in an NHS hospital, and he was scheduled to undergo common courses of chemotherapy and radiation. His parents had researched his condition, and wanted him to try some new and experimental proton therapy which the NHS doctors denied.
So his parents did what I think many parents would do – they said “F the NHS bureaucrats” (not their exact words) and took their child from the hospital without government permission. (The nerve!) They took him to Spain, triggering a continent-wide manhunt that resulted in their arrest. Because the British have solved all of their country’s problems – having made a speedy and efficient exit from the EU, and removed all jihadi mass stabbers and rape gangs, and mastered dentistry and fine dining – and so had the resources and time on their hands to make an international case of parents who had the gall to seek the best treatment they could find for their son.
The ensuing public outcry forced the Brits to release the parents from jail, and the NHS ended up paying for Aysha to get the proton treatment in a Czech hospital.
I know what you’re thinking, as you hear the pounding of non-presidential hooves in the distance. “So he died in a few months instead of a few weeks. What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Not so fast, Canklesaurus. Aysha is still alive today, four years later, and his brain cancer is gone.
But do not worry that the NHS has repented, and apologized, and embraced his family in the spirit of good will like you might have seen at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Nope. They are big government leftists, and they know better than we do how we should care for our children. And if we ignore their advice and remove a kid from their control, and that kid survives and even thrives, they are not pleased.
Though Aysha King’s cancer is gone, he still needs some physical and speech therapy, and ongoing monitoring of his condition. The NHS has consistently denied him that, and his parents have been forced to repeatedly take him to Spain for his ongoing tests and check-ups.
From these examples, I draw two morals:
1.If you ever find yourself in a position where your politics make you fight the parents of a sick child for the right to keep their child under your control, so that he will die in the way that you think he should, you really should consider changing your politics.
- I would rather deliver my own child in a Chick Fil A bathroom and swaddle her goopy, newborn body in a sweaty Trump t-shirt than trust her to the tender mercies of a bureaucratic socialized medical system.
One final personal note: my oldest daughter is going to turn 21 in two months. Twenty years and 10 months ago, she was born with Hirschsprung’s Syndrome, which involves nerves in the colon not fully developing in utero. Until several decades ago, this condition was usually fatal within the first few years of life.
But because dedicated doctors working in a free market system – and with the advanced technology and techniques developed in that kind of system – are now able to diagnose and treat that condition, the disease often results in life-long complications, but the death rate from it is much lower.
When she was three days old, a great surgeon did a partial colostomy on her, and two first-time parents — who a week earlier had been worrying whether they’d be able to do the simplest things that new parents have to do — found ourselves learning to clean a stoma and trim and apply colostomy bags to a newborn.
Three months later, she had grown enough that the surgeon was able to do a “pull-through” surgery to return the remainder of her colon to its regular position. She was still hospitalized with five serious infections during her first five years of life, but when my wife read about some positive early trials in Finland using liquid antihistamines to treat related bowel conditions (did I mention I married a world-class wife?), she brought that article to our surgeon’s attention.
Because he is not a bureaucratic drone in an arrogant, sclerotic socialized medical system, he researched the Finnish trials, and said, “Why not? Let’s try it.”
That was 16 years ago, and my daughter has not had a serious infection since.
Also, our surgeon did not require any facial reconstruction surgeries, or a procedure to remove my foot from his rectum, which is what would have happened if he had told me that the US NHS would not allow my daughter to get that treatment because my governmental betters did not approve.
So, win-win, and God bless us, everyone!
Go to Martinsimpsonwriting.com to see my past columns, as well as a picture of a young Katie Simpson, aged 5, blissfully happy that she has conquered Hirschsprung’s, and about to embark on a lifetime of turning into a beautiful, intelligent young woman, and then – though this part is still in the future -delivering between 4 and 6 grandchildren to my wife and me.