PALO ALTO, Calif. – For weeks now, the media has been pouring out news about former South African President Nelson Mandela’s illness and repeated hospital stays. Meanwhile, the South African government has been saying for days that Mandela—who turns 95 on Thursday–is in “critical but stable condition,” possibly suggesting he is on life-support machines.
Mandela’s high profile, say South African legal experts, makes it very difficult for someone as visible as this global icon to do advance care planning for the end of his life. Yet planning ahead with written forms is just what more and more people will have to do in an era of high-tech medicine and potentially unnatural life prolongation.
No information is currently available as to whether the human-rights icon ever wrote a so-called “advance directive,” or chose a health care proxy – someone to make medical decisions for him if he became incapacitated.
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