NEWS
02/18/2016 14:28 EST | Updated 02/18/2017 00:12 EST

CBC Forum: When is a life no longer worth saving?

In February 2014, 30-year-old Toronto resident Sidharth (Sid) Gupta had an unexpected stroke.

Within 36 hours, doctors had removed one-third of his brain.

The circumstances of the surgeries have been the cause of much heartache for the Gupta family, but doctors did meet their fundamental aim: to relieve the swelling of Sid's brain and save his life.

Still, the procedures left him catatonic, unresponsive, and, as one of his colleagues put it, "He was completely somebody else."

Two years later, Sid is no more able to state his opinion than he was while lying on the operating table.

A case such as this captures all the ethical complexities of an existential debate — namely, at which point a person or their family should have the right to choose whether to preserve life or make an excruciating decision.

At the point where Sid might have died without the second surgery, he had been incapable of speaking for himself about whether his life was still worth living.

Rather, it had been incumbent on his family to determine whether attempts to save him — "heroic measures" in medical parlance — were preferable to letting him go.

CBC's interactive feature story Saving Sid, published Wednesday, has sparked a wider conversation among Canadians about the ethics of giving patients or their families the option to choose between death and a future of living with a severe disability. 

At what point is a life no longer worth saving?

Share your thoughts, stories and unique perspectives on this issue in today's CBC Forum:

Can't see the forum? Click here.​