The physician of Environmentalist Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh has withdrawn her services with immediate effect.
Dr. Asante VanWest‐Charles¬‐Le Blanc in a media release stated that as a medical practitioner who has an imperative to preserve life, she’s torn between that imperative and respect for the autonomy of her patient.
Below is the full statement from Dr. Asante VanWest‐Charles¬‐Le Blanc.
October 9th, 2014
A long established common law principle upholds the right to individual self-determination, including the choice to refuse treatment. The decision not to intervene and to allow a person to die is extremely difficult for a physician to make. From an ethical perspective, the practitioner caring for a hunger striker confronts the tension between on the one hand, and the imperative to preserve life and, on the other, respect for the autonomy of the individual.
Today is day 22 going into 23 of the hunger strike of Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh. Based on the laws of physiology, and on studies of hunger strikers, there is now organ damage including to the Nervous System. Based on my observations, I have strongly and repeatedly advised Dr. Kublalsingh to cease this hunger strike before it is too late and further irreparable damage is done to his organs. The ultimate result of a hunger strike of this nature is death and to my mind this is highly probable and a rapidly approaching occurrence.
The true clinical picture is not a pretty one, there are no smoke screens or tricks, and this citizen of Trinidad and Tobago is dying. Owing to this, I have been forced to reflect and have advised Dr. Kublalsingh that I am forced to take a step back. I will still be available to him if an emergency occurs, and I will be happy to attend to him in any institution of his choice if he decided to stop this hunger strike. While 23 days with no food or water is demonstrative of tremendous mental and physical fortitude, it is also a very unsettling experience for all those involved. After many sleepless nights, endless conversations with my mentor and advisors, it is with a very heavy heart that I have to suspend my professional relationship with Dr. Kublalsingh. I have informed him that I am more than happy to continue medical treatment once he stops this hunger strike. I am not threatening or coercing him, but rather being honest with him and myself.
I cannot express enough, the critical situation that lies before us as a country. This is indeed a critical time for Trinidad and Tobago. As a physician, I believe in preserving life as well as death with dignity, but I am caught in a moral and ethical crossroad and must make this difficult decision. Dr. Kublalsingh has expressed his understanding and has liberated me from my obligations.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Dr. Asante VanWest‐Charles‐Le Blanc