Woman Tattoos DNR Order on Her Chest To Instruct Doctors on End of Life Care

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 18, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Woman Tattoos DNR Order on Her Chest To Instruct Doctors on End of Life Care

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 18, 2006

Des Moines, IA (LifeNews.com) — In an unconventional decision that is making headlines around the nation, an Iowa woman has had the words "do not resuscitate" tattooed on her chest to make it clear to doctors that if she is ever incapacitated she does not want them to revive her.

Mary Wohlford of Decorah, Iowa, is an 80 year-old great grandmother and she told the Des Moines Register newspaper, "People might think I’m crazy, but that’s OK."

"Sometimes the nuttiest ideas are the most advanced," she added.

The retired nurse wants to make sure that she, and not other people, ultimately decides her own medical fate.

Wohlford said the decision to put the inked instructions on her body was a direct response to the national controversy over Terri Schiavo, whose former husband won the right to euthanize her in a painful 13-day starvation death.

If Terri Schiavo had a "Do Not Resuscitate" tattoo, Wohlford told the paper, "then her husband could have said, ‘See, it’s right here. This is what she wanted.’"

She admitted that some people may find her tattoo funny and not a serious attempt to display her own medical decision-making process. But Wohlford insists her motives are serious.

"This is a modern day and age," she said. "You have to advance with the times. We never even had a living will 20 years ago. Now I think we’ve got to go to the next step."

In a more traditional effort to signify her wishes, Wohlford has signed a living will and prominently hung it on her refrigerator.

According to the newspaper, Wohlford probably isn’t going to have to rely on the tattoo any time soon to help doctors care for her. Despite her age, she still mows her own yard, cleans her own swimming poll, and cares for two other women part-time.

Wohlford even went down to New Orleans to pitch in some volunteer work to clean up after the disaster that followed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.