Oct 14, 2011

The Grandmother With the DNR Tattoo

"I was born an animal... and I don't want to die a vegetable." So says 81-year-old Joy Tomkins, explaining why she has the words "Do Not Resuscitate" prominently tattooed in blue over her heart.

A British grandmother, Tomkins is not terminally ill. But she's hoping that if anything happens to her, the tattoo will ensure that extraordinary measures won't be taken to keep her alive.

I don't know how British law works. But Stateside, Tomkins' plan wouldn't work. To withhold resuscitation, medical personnel must see a valid Do Not Resuscitate Order - on paper, not on your skin! A physician must sign the DNRO, and you (or your health care power of attorney) must also sign.The document states that in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest, resuscitative techniques should not be used.

The DNRO is not the same as a Living Will. To learn more about these and other health care documents,  click here.

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