An ethical crisis here - advice urgently needed [non-vegan medication] - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 02-03-2010, 12:17 PM
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I have been a member here for a while and vegan for several months. My daughter prompted me to take the step as she decided to become a vegan and I joined her. I haven't posted for some time due to some serious health problems that have occurred since then, and life has been highly stressful.



In November my daughter had a sickness and diarrhoea virus that wiped her out and left her immobile on the sofa for several days. She had a couple of trips to the hospital to check for dehydration although she was ok as I'd kept her going with lots of rehydration fluids. After the third week of the virus she began to recover but after several days she had a massive Deep Vein Thrombis. She developed a large blood clot in her groin and the doctors began the long investigative procedure to discover why a 15 year old should get this. Yes, immobility can cause DVT but she is 15, fit, active and very healthy.



She was put onto warfarin and has been attended blood clinics weekly ever since, to check her INR levels and ensure that her blood is thin and she isn't at risk of the blood clot embolising. They plan to take her off warfarin in March. However, the warfarin was not thinning her blood enough and they no longer wish to keep increasing the dose (too many other risks). A blood test came back saying that she has Leiden Factor 5 defieincy, which is basically a fairly common blood disorder which means that the blood clots up too easily. This is why the sickness virus led to a DVT and it explains everything.



The problem - and this really IS a problem - is that the clinic arranged an appointment today, to teach her how to self-inject a drug called Heparin, in addition to her regular warfarin, to ensure that her blood is suitably thinned out. They wanted her to inject herself daily until the blood has stabilised. She looked it all up on the internet last night and discovered that it is made from something taken from pigs. She went to the clinic this morning and threw up everywhere, then refused the drug. She came home, went to bed and has been in a state of anxiety and upset all day.



She will be off the warfarin in March. Without a daily injection of Heparin, the consultant said that she will be considered insufficiently de-coagulated and runs a high risk of developing another blood clot. Without Heparin, blood clots can embolise - bits break off and lodge themselves in the lungs, the heart or the brain. She could die or be brain damaged if this occurred.



She cannot see her way to taking a drug that comes from an animal source. There isn't another one. She had Heparin initially after the DVT but didn't know where it came from at the time. Now she does, and has realised the implications of NOT taking it, but really doesn't, and cannot, think that her life is worth more than a pig's.



I find it difficult to discuss this with her as I am her Mum and I become extremely stressed, anxious and panicky just thinking about the fact that she is refusing medical advice. It has been enormously stressful watching her suffer with it all the first time round, and to deliberately run the risk of developing a further one with worse complications is unthinkable for me.



I would appreciate your thoughts, gently put as we are fragile, and will show her any useful input that any of you may have. I appreciate it greatly and hope that somebody can be helpful in this very difficult situation.



Thanks
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#2 Old 02-03-2010, 12:36 PM
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I am so sorry to hear about your daughter's illness! Please tell her that by taking her medicine, she is able to live to further the vegan cause once she recovers. If she refuses to take her Heparin and becomes incapacitated or (heaven forbid) dies as a result, she will not be able to help further the cause that means so very much to her. You and your daughter are in my thoughts.
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#3 Old 02-03-2010, 12:45 PM
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I think you need to ask her exactly what her objections are to refusing the drug. If she feels some sort of pressure from the vegan "community", she should know that most vegans here would tell her to take the medicine, since there is no alternative.



If she has deep personal reasons that have nothing to do with what anyone else thinks, you are going to have a tough time I am afraid. I can see it from your viewpoint as well as hers, but I must admit she is doing exactly what I would do in her situation, and I am afraid no one would be able to change my mind on this. Ultimately it is her choice, and you will have to find some way to appeal to her feelings for you and the rest of her family, if you are to persuade her to take the injections.



Though I would refuse myself, it doesn't mean I think it would be wrong for her to take the medicine. Maybe if she was made aware that most vegans would urge her to take it it might change her mind. No one else is going to judge her negatively for it. If that is not her concern, however, the trick is going to be to get her to stop judging herself, if that is what is behind it. I will be thinking good thoughts for you both.

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#4 Old 02-03-2010, 12:57 PM
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I just looked up "heparin" in Wikipedia (not the most reliable surce, I know). The information was as I suspected: heparin is a by-product of the meat industry. Although the sale of heparin does profit those who expoit animals, animals are not killed specifically to produce heparin. I don't know how much difference this will make to you and to her, but this is potentially a serious illness.

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#5 Old 02-03-2010, 01:02 PM
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Honestly, I think you should pull the mom card. Is it fair that animals were hurt to get this drug? No. But it's also not fair that there is no other option, and she could potentially get very sick or die without it. Of course you should talk it over with her, and use all the good points others have made here; but in the end, you are the adult in the situation and get to make all medical decisions. It's unfair, but necessary.

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#6 Old 02-03-2010, 01:07 PM
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^^^^ +1.



I'd pull the card on my three. She can kick and scream and give you hell over it but you can smile knowing she's still here.
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#7 Old 02-03-2010, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Milliebert View Post

^^^^ +1.



I'd pull the card on my three. She can kick and scream and give you hell over it but you can smile knowing she's still here.



Exactly. If she hates you for it, at least she is alive to hate you for it.

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#8 Old 02-03-2010, 01:12 PM
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If you haven't already, talk to a doctor about it, there are probably other synthetic drugs that would do the job if she can't or refuses to take heparin.
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#9 Old 02-03-2010, 01:13 PM
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This is a life or death situation and in such instances you should do whatever you can to survive. It must be a horrible situation to be in as a vegan, but it is only one animal product. Your daughter can still consider herself a vegan..... I'm sure there are many vegans on here that take some kind of animal derived medication, and I'm sure their conditions are less serious than your daughters. There are animal derived products everywhere... no one can avoid them completely. You're daughter sounds very brave and a lovely caring person. You need her in this world, as do the rest of us!
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#10 Old 02-03-2010, 01:19 PM
 
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Agreed that she should take the medicine. Can't help the animals if you're dead.



I don't think I would pull "the mom card" though, as it may just make a 15 yo more likely to not take the meds, secretly. Have her come and talk to us here if she's in doubt. Many (most) of us would taken animal-part-laden meds if our life/health depended on it.

The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory. - Jonathan Kozol
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#11 Old 02-03-2010, 02:06 PM
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There isn't another synthetic drug - we asked the consultant this morning. Thanks so much for your input - I know for a fact that Abi will value hearing from other vegans. She knows that meat-eaters don't understand her reasons. She feels strongly that her life isn't intrinsically of more value than the animals', but I think you've made some good points here.



I will ask her to have a read through. I can't pull any Mum card, because the doctors won't inject anybody with anything while they are personally unwilling to be injected. It's not something that I can order her to do and unfortunately I think that attempting that would only result in a poor relationship between the two of us.



I have pointed out to Abi that she is risking her life if she doesn't take the Heparin and at the very least she needs to be able to make an informed decision knowing that death or long-term incapacitation could be the result of that decision.



Thanks again - your replies I think she will very much appreciate and perhaps the chance to offload if she eventually decides to go ahead with the treatment.



That was an interesting point about the source of the Heparin. I think she would prefer that to pigs specifically being bred for that purpose alone.
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#12 Old 02-03-2010, 02:31 PM
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I'm so sorry she has to go through this. Abi should face that if she doesn't have other options besides heparin, I wouldn't think any true vegan would tell her to not take it.



Here's the definition by Donald Watson, who coined the term "vegan":

[T]he word "veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.[1]



As far as is possible and practical.



She needs to be reminded how few people there are who are willing to stand up for beliefs as she does. Remind her of the things she wishes to work for. This world needs as many animal advocates as it can get.

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#13 Old 02-03-2010, 03:03 PM
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http://www.vegansociety.com/Lifestyl...on/health.aspx



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Please note that we do not advise you to stop taking medication or prescribed drugs for vegan reasons without consulting your GP.



Might help



Also ALL medicines have being animal tested , so its a hard line to draw .
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#14 Old 02-03-2010, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Montyruth View Post

There isn't another synthetic drug - we asked the consultant this morning.

...

Maybe they don't work in your daughters case, but there are a few therapeutic substitutes for heparin - recombinant hirudin and prostacyclin at least. There would be more, and those would be cheaper, if there were more people who cared about animal rights, but why develop something new when we can just take what we need from pigs? Its a messy philosophical/moral issue, but in a sense she is sort of 'forced' to use heparin due to there not being enough people who are as aware as she is of animal suffering. So if she dies or is permanently injured because of her choice in this, it is a loss to many animals as well.
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#15 Old 02-03-2010, 04:17 PM
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You could tell her if she doesn't take it, she could end up much sicker and in the hospital again and will then be using even more animal-derived and animal-tested products.



Good luck.
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#16 Old 02-03-2010, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Montyruth View Post

Thanks so much for your input - I know for a fact that Abi will value hearing from other vegans. She knows that meat-eaters don't understand her reasons. She feels strongly that her life isn't intrinsically of more value than the animals', but I think you've made some good points here.

I think it is really important for her to know that not everyone will think of her as crazy, fanatic, or extremist for how she feels. I know I get my share of that, even from fellow vegans. She is to be admired for being a rare person who wants to live by her beliefs no matter the cost to herself. But I agree that she needs to understand exactly what this cost may mean. She won't be any the lesser if she chooses to take what she needs to survive. She is dong the very best she can, even if it means accepting the injections.



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I can't pull any Mum card, because the doctors won't inject anybody with anything while they are personally unwilling to be injected. It's not something that I can order her to do and unfortunately I think that attempting that would only result in a poor relationship between the two of us.

I agree completely. If she were 5, it would be a different story. I can't imagine forcing a 15 year old to inject herself, or restraining her and doing it against her will. I think it would be disastrous.

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#17 Old 02-03-2010, 06:49 PM
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I really don't think it's a good thing to force someone into taking something they're against. As a mother I would never do such an awful thing; there's better ways.
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#18 Old 02-03-2010, 06:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Milliebert View Post

^^^^ +1.



I'd pull the card on my three. She can kick and scream and give you hell over it but you can smile knowing she's still here.



I think it's a bad idea to force someone into taking something they're against. As a mother I'd never do such an awful thing; there are better ways.
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#19 Old 02-03-2010, 07:30 PM
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#20 Old 02-04-2010, 05:58 AM
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Montyruth, maybe I should clarify: I have not yet earned the right to call myself a vegan. Although I do avoid consuming milk, egg, and honey because of the harm the production of these foods causes to animals, there are a very few aspects of veganism I do not consistently follow. You and your daughter might choose to disregard my input in this thread.

Peasant (1963-1972) and Fluffy (1970s?-1982- I think of you as 'Ambrose' now)- Your spirits outshone some humans I have known. Be happy forever.
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#21 Old 02-04-2010, 06:57 AM
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I've got another idea. Farm Sanctuary has an sponsor program that "provide [animals] with nourishing food, safe refuge, veterinary care, and everything else they need for a happy and healthy life." She could sponsor a pig! It would be like an offset for the life lost for the medicine, she could save another life.
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#22 Old 02-04-2010, 07:13 AM
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Here's the official definition of the word "vegan", from the people who invented the word:



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[T]he word "veganism" denotes a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.



Note the "as far as practical and possible" part. Unfortunately, it's a fact of modern life that animals are going to be exploited and killed. Even the purest ethical vegan probably rides in a car with tires made from animals. And I don't know where you live, but here in the US, testing all medication on animals before releasing it to the public is actually required by law. So even though Tylenol or Advil aren't made of anything from animals, the fact is that animals suffered for them to be created at some point.



Tell your daughter all this, then tell her that dying for the cause doesn't count as "possible and practical". As others have said, she can save more animals as a living vegan activist than if she's dead.



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#23 Old 02-04-2010, 08:50 AM
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Abi has decided to go ahead and take the meds after reading this thread. She may well reply to you later, when she's finished her homework!



I am so grateful for your input; as I said before, she can respect the views of other vegans who understand exactly how she feels, as opposed to friends and teachers who don't get veganism in the first place!



I absolutely LOVE the idea of her sponsoring a pig. That is fantastic. There is actually a local animal rescue place that does similar scheme so I will definitely look into that. Thankyou so much for a beautiful idea.



Personally I'm damn grateful that she's going to take the meds but on the other hand I understand that she will find it really distressing and will need to offload from time to time.



I made another appointment with the hospital for the self-injection training. Wish us luck!
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#24 Old 02-04-2010, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Montyruth View Post

Abi has decided to go ahead and take the meds after reading this thread. She may well reply to you later, when she's finished her homework!



I am so grateful for your input; as I said before, she can respect the views of other vegans who understand exactly how she feels, as opposed to friends and teachers who don't get veganism in the first place!



I absolutely LOVE the idea of her sponsoring a pig. That is fantastic. There is actually a local animal rescue place that does similar scheme so I will definitely look into that. Thankyou so much for a beautiful idea.



Personally I'm damn grateful that she's going to take the meds but on the other hand I understand that she will find it really distressing and will need to offload from time to time.



I made another appointment with the hospital for the self-injection training. Wish us luck!



So happy to hear. Abi sounds like an amazingly compassionate vegan; her empathy for animals is overwhelmingly apparent. I'm glad she's doing what it takes to be healthy so she can continue to save animals in the future.



I hope Abi gets better soon!
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#25 Old 02-04-2010, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Montyruth View Post

Abi has decided to go ahead and take the meds after reading this thread. She may well reply to you later, when she's finished her homework!



I am so grateful for your input; as I said before, she can respect the views of other vegans who understand exactly how she feels, as opposed to friends and teachers who don't get veganism in the first place!



I absolutely LOVE the idea of her sponsoring a pig. That is fantastic. There is actually a local animal rescue place that does similar scheme so I will definitely look into that. Thankyou so much for a beautiful idea.







Personally I'm damn grateful that she's going to take the meds but on the other hand I understand that she will find it really distressing and will need to offload from time to time.



I made another appointment with the hospital for the self-injection training. Wish us luck!



I have just finished reading through this thread and am so happy to hear that Abi has decided to take the medicine... All the animals need Abi to stay healthy and take care of herself so she can further contribute to the ending of all animal suffering :-) I hope Abi gets better soon.
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#26 Old 02-04-2010, 09:42 AM
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Being Vegan is a great way to make a statement, and to personally not contribute to animal suffering. It also creates a space for more folks to do the same thing. However, what really decreases animal suffering is action. The system of animal exploitation will not change if your daughter is ill. No system of animal exploitation will change by her being a vegan.



Being vegan is imporant; but that is not the whole kit and kaboodle. HER LIFE AND HER ACTION are what matters. If she lives and thrives, then she can be the first one to spear-head vegan Heparin, but more importantly, a world in which animal exploitation is not the norm. She is loved too much for her to do anything but live. We need more more fighter, not one more martyr.
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#27 Old 02-04-2010, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by xrodolfox View Post

Being Vegan is a great way to make a statement, and to personally not contribute to animal suffering. It also creates a space for more folks to do the same thing. However, what really decreases animal suffering is action. The system of animal exploitation will not change if your daughter is ill. No system of animal exploitation will change by her being a vegan.



Being vegan is imporant; but that is not the whole kit and kaboodle. HER LIFE AND HER ACTION are what matters. If she lives and thrives, then she can be the first one to spear-head vegan Heparin, but more importantly, a world in which animal exploitation is not the norm. She is loved too much for her to do anything but live. We need more more fighter, not one more martyr.



Beautifully put.
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#28 Old 02-04-2010, 11:05 AM
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i absolutely love the idea of her sponsoring a pig. That is fantastic. There is actually a local animal rescue place that does similar scheme so i will definitely look into that. Thankyou so much for a beautiful idea.



YAY!

I'm glad there is happy ending, Abi made the right choice.
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#29 Old 02-04-2010, 12:45 PM
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Your daughter made the right and also the only choice she has. I hope that now she has taken the decision to take the Herapin, that she will no longer let this dilemma she had worry her. No guilt!!! She must get well. And I wish her all the best for her future health.



Even the most die-hard and radical animal rights persons would probably all take the same decision she did.



It's easy for healthy people to say "I'll never take medicine from an animal or tested on an animal". But when it comes to the push, it's unlikely that they will hold to this understandable, but unrealistic, desire.



Tell Abi that this message comes from a self-appointed member of the Vegan Police and a real Vegan Meanie!
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#30 Old 02-04-2010, 08:02 PM
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I'm glad your daughter decided to keep herself healthy. I wish more teenagers cared even half as much as she does about animals.
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