An influential Dutch ethicist has said that if Queen Beatrix’s son, Prince Johan Friso, had been hospitalised in the Netherlands after his ski accident, doctors would have already stopped his treatment.
Heleen Dupuis, who is a member of the Dutch Upper House for the ruling Liberal Party (VVD), said, “it’s questionable whether the prince will ever have a normal life again. I understand that the chances are extremely small.” According to the ethicist, “had the prince been sent to a Dutch hospital, doctors would have probably turned off the life support system because there is such a slim possibility that he will ever recover.”
Prince Friso suffered severe brain damage after he was trapped in an avalanche, while skiing in Austria in February. He is in a coma at Wellington Hospital in London. Doctors say the chances he will recover are minimal.
There’s a growing debate in the Netherlands about how far doctors should go in treating patients. Health care is becoming unaffordable for two reasons. On the one hand, people are ageing and need more medical care, and on the other extremely expensive drugs are being developed for very rare diseases that used to be fatal. The Dutch are asking whether society should pay 50,000 euros to extend a cancer patient’s life by six months. The discussion is likely to play a role in the political campaigns for the general elections on September 12.