2008: Conference spotlights thorny end – of – life questions

Catholic San Fransisco article on the End of Life Conference. Nancy was one of the three speakers.

Conference spotlights thorny end-of-life questions

By Michael Vick

November 5th, 2008

Nancy Valko, one of three speakers at the Sept. 13 End – of – Life Issues Conference held at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, came to the field of bioethics through deep personal tragedy. In 1982, Valko gave birth to her daughter Karen, born with Down syndrome and a rare heart defect.

Valko’s doctor gave the child only two months to live, saying the defect was so severe it seemed inoperable. She refused to accept the prognosis, and decided to use her training as a nurse to research other alternatives. She found a surgery that could correct the defect that had a 90 percent chance of success.

Reviewing the surgery, the doctor agreed, but made it clear to Valko he would support her either way.

“Either way for what?” Valko asked. She then realized the doctor would approve of withholding treatment, not because it had no potential for success, but because her child had Down syndrome.

Go to link for full article


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