Five Days at Memorial: Book Chronicles Euthanasia of Patients During Hurricane Katrina

National   |   Alex Schadenberg   |   Jan 28, 2014   |   12:59PM   |   Washington, DC

Euthanasia did not occur out of desperation, but rather out of errors and a false sense of compassion.

The 558 page book, Five Days at Memorial, tells the complete story of what happened at Memorial Medical Centre in New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina disaster that began on August 28, 2005.
Pulitzer Prize winning author, Sheri Fink, through interviews, articles and evidence from attempted prosecutions, uncovers the decisions, the attitudes and the actions that led to at least 20 homicides at Memorial Medical Centre following the Katrina disaster of 2005.
fivedaysatmemorialFink identifies how the decisions were made, those who allegedly gave intentional lethal doses of morphine, the hero’s of the story and the legal proceedings that followed. Fink presents the evidence in a chronological fashion.
Many people have argued that the Katrina deaths were the result of decisions that were made in extreme conditions. After reading this book it becomes clear that decisions that were made to leave the hardest patients to move last, created a situation where certain physicians made lethal decisions.
The story of Emmett Everett brings home how the euthanasia mentality leads to the deaths of people with disabilities. Everett was not sick and dying, but rather he was 380 pounds and paralyzed below his waist. Everett, who at one point was taken for dead when he was resting, had effectively survived through the ordeal. The morning before he died he was upbeat and getting ready to roll out of the hospital. Everett was injected, not because he was in pain, or because he was so near to death that nothing could be done for him, but because he was partially paralyzed and weighed 380 pounds.
It is important to note that Memorial was not the only hospital that was stranded by flood water and without electricity, but Memorial was the only hospital where a few doctors decided to respond to this horrific circumstance by injecting patients with massive doses of morphine and sedatives with the alleged intention of causing death.
It is also interesting to note that in the chaos, the doctors never noticed and the hospital administrators never bothered to inform the medical practitioners that the cancer wing of the hospital continued to have electricity.
Five Days at Memorial is an important book for people who want to understand how otherwise caring medical practitioners can become killers. Poor decisions, stressful conditions and negative attitudes towards people with disabilities and people with terminal and chronic conditions led to decisions to kill.
Considering the significant abuse of euthanasia in Belgium and the Netherlands, we must be vigilant and oppose the legalization of euthanasia in Canada.
Five Days at Memorial makes it clear, that the power to kill must not be granted to others. Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.