South African Family Practice

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The Principle of Proportionality: Foregoing / Withdrawing Life Support

D Knapp van Bogaert, GA Ogunbanjo


Thirst and hunger are basic physiological conditions that trigger on the search for food and fluids. Both sensations are mediated cortically; therefore, they cannot be present in patients in a permanent vegetative state (PVS).1 Similarly, PVS patients may react to painful and other noxious stimuli but do not feel pain in the sense of conscious discomfort.2 Furthermore, PVS patients lack gag and swallowing reflexes; therefore, they cannot be fed by mouth.3

For full text, click here:SA Fam Pract 2005;47(8):66-67
AJOL African Journals Online