Meaningfulness and Meaninglessness in Neonatology



In the Lancet of October 1993, a case study was presented on the life of Baby K., a baby girl born with anencephaly.1 Before birth the baby was already diagnosed with this very serious congenital birth defect. In babies with anencephaly the vault of the skull is absent, and though the brainstem is present, the cerebral cortex is rudimentary or absent. In the case of Baby K. it meant that she had reflex actions like respiration and reflex actions to touch and sound, but she never would gain consciousness. There is no cure for this disorder. Without medical interventions these children die within days to weeks after birth, (though exceptions have been described). When Baby K. was born, she did not breathe. She was put on artificial ventilation, awaiting who knows? The mother insisted on continued intensive care and refused to give permission for a do-not-resuscitate order. The doctors wanted to limit their interventions to comfort care or to care-for-the-dying and viewed the intensive treatment as not appropriate. The case was dealt with in court and the judge decided that the intensive treatment had to be continued. The physicians were furious: “Next, we’ll have to give her [this child without cerebral cortex] an artificial kidney or perform a liver or heart transplant. ”


Down Syndrome Bifid Spine Medical Circuit Artificial Ventilation Unborn Child 
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