Commentary: Hoag Hospital defends right to life

I attended the demonstrations at Hoag Hospital last week to support the decision to quit performing elective abortions because I am one of the lives saved through this hospital when many, if not most, would have not intervened to save me.

Hoag stood for my life when I could not. I am proud to stand with Hoag today on behalf of pre-born children who cannot stand for themselves.

I completely support Hoag's decision, consistent with its mission to promote, protect and heal lives.

When I was "dead," I could not speak for myself. When I was in a coma, I could not prove I was not a vegetable. When I first regained consciousness, I could not even lift my head, feed myself, take care of my bodily needs, speak or even swallow. I was more helpless than a baby before birth. I am thankful Hoag did not consider my life of no value but did everything in its power to protect and heal my life.

On Dec. 18, I suffered a cardiac arrest in my home. Neither my wife nor the Costa Mesa Fire Department could revive me. I did not respond to resuscitation attempts on the way to or in the E.R.

The ER staff was ready to pronounce me dead when the cardiologist, at my wife's urging, tried one more time. I was resuscitated and was admitted to the cardiovascular critical care unit. I had a 0.01% chance of even surviving.

My wife consented lowering my core body temperature and medically sedating me to raise my chance of survival to 0.04%. Not much chance.

Although my chances for survival were remote, and chances for substantial recovery slight, Hoag Hospital was completely committed to saving my life and assisting me in as much recovery as possible.

They treated me as a human being with the right and privilege of life, and were my allies, not my executioners, nor mere witnesses to my demise. When I was coming out of my coma, some considered me a "vegetable" and encouraged my wife to let me go. I will always be thankful that she refused and Hoag supported her commitment to my life.

I am almost exactly six months from my death and new life. I am expected to make a full and complete recovery. My temporary limitations are negligible — lack of strength and stamina, short-term memory deficiencies and difficulty enunciating clearly.

I improve every day. I work out with a personal trainer, work part time in my construction-related profession and testify every day to the life-giving power of God through exemplary life-committed institutions and people like those who work at Hoag.

PATRICK COBURN lives in Costa Mesa.

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