There was a report in the paper this week about another couple who are facing the death of their child, a baby aged just eight months. The baby has an extremely rare genetic condition as a result of which he is both blind and deaf and he is being kept alive by a ventilator. The hospital applied to the court for permission to discontinue treatment, against the parents' wishes. They, the parents, have raised a vast sum of money - £1.2 million - to pay for treatment in the USA.
I have my view on the court's judgement but that is wholly beside the point of this post. My concern here is that £1.2 million.
There appears to be an increasing number of cases where people - parents, other family, friends - appeal to the public at large for funds to pay for drugs or treatment not available on the National Health Service. This is, of course, in addition to the on-going charity appeals for cancer research, the lifeboat service, over-worked Spanish donkeys, dancing bears in India and many others of variable worthiness. Most of these one-off appeals to attract generous donations. But my cynicism, scepticism or downright stinginess immediately jump into action. Even without questioning the genuineness or otherwise of the appeal, there are things I want to know. Things like:
- Can I trust the person collecting the money to deal with it properly without dipping into the fund?
- What will happen to the money collected if the target is not reached?
- What will happen to the money if the patient dies before the money is spent?
- What will be done with the surplus if more is donated than is needed?
Those questions are left unanswered too often for me to donate to any such appeal.