Mandela’s Illness Exposes Little End-of-Life Planning in Modern World

Jul. 17, 2013 / By

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New America Media, News Report, Viji Sundaram

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.

Few Americans Have Written Wishes

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New America Media is the country's first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 3,000 ethnic news organizations. Over 57 million ethnic adults connect to each other, to home countries and to America through 3000+ ethnic media outlets, the fastest growing sector of American journalism. Founded by the nonprofit Pacific News Service in 1996, NAM is headquartered in California with offices in New York and Washington D.C., and partnerships with journalism schools to grow local associations of ethnic media.