Healing and Autonomy Case Study

Healing and Autonomy Case Study

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Healing and Autonomy Case Study

The case study provided of Healing and Autonomy of the biblical narration and visions of Joanne and Mike who are James parents. The parents are struggling to make accurate and correct ethical decisions that are moral due to James current deteriorating health status. Joanne and Mike boast of a strong Christian background and must make the decisions regarding their son James, who is eight years old solely. However, despite practicing religious autonomy, the parents are struggling with the knowledge that their son’s current health condition must be left in the hands of God and the health practitioners.

Tension on the religious autonomy first existed when James was diagnosed with a streptococcus infection. This leads to kidney failure, which the health physicians recommended that he undergo a temporary dialysis. The parents, Mike and Joanne made the decision of opting out of the dialysis and instead placed their faith and believed that God would heal him. They felt that the healing by the Creator was a better option compared to the required temporary dialysis recommended. It is mentioned in the case study whether the practitioners struggled with that decision. Nevertheless, they recognized the religious autonomy as it was his parent’s decision to consider the faith-based healing. However, things turned not as expected and they came back after just two days with James health worse than before. This tests Mike’s faith, as he feels guilty of failing to treat his son via the dialysis that was earlier recommended. As a result, he views the outcome from the Christian perspective as some sort of punishment from God to his entire family.

Secondly, the Mike now faced another tension as his son now was in the brink of death. James now required an urgent kidney transplant as the only option now relied on James’s twin brother Samuel as the donor. Mike faces a dilemma of whether his son, Samuel, should lose his kidney or leave James health at risk and pray that in future, a miracle happens, and God heals him.

These situations reveal three principles Nonmaleficence, Autonomy, and Beneficence principles of moral and ethical issues that the family’s characters are dealing with. While the health physicians have the mandate of keeping their patients out of harm, they are still expected to explicate all the benefits and risks to the parents as the final deciders and respect the choices that they make for James. This coupled with the respect of the parent’s autonomy forms the Beneficence principle.

According to the Meilaender (2013) in the “Biomedical Ethics in the Christian narrative,” autonomy refers to an ethical and moral principle that accords respect to the decision-making capabilities of the autonomous persons. The parents’ decision to place the life of their son, James, in God’s hand and prefers faith-based healing as opposed to the recommended dialysis stipulates this. In this case, it is the health practitioners’ responsibility to accept the parents’ view and provide proper treatment for the patient. However, this decision is one of the causes of the worsening of the James health.

The worsening of James health status leads to the Nonmaleficence principle. This requires that the characters do not cause harm to the others. In the case study, it is important that Joanne and Mike be educated to understand the dire health situation in James worsened condition further. Thus, the parents’ needs and decisions should be in line and achieve the perfect balance of the faith-based healing against medicine. As a result, there is a need for both Joanne and Mike to work together with the physicians to make the most accurate and correct decision for James new health condition. To achieve the perfect balance of the medical needs with the spiritual beliefs of the family, it is essential for them to understand the Christian view of the medicinal purposes. In Christianity, medicine serves God call and its purposes are entirely done in accordance with the light of the authority of Jesus. According to Shelly and Miller (2006) in their book “Called to Care: A Christian worldview for Nursing,” they argue that when a person lives in observance to the God’s ways, he/she learns how God works out his purposes and can trust all this when unable to see his working. Therefore, enables all of us to live filled with hope. In Ephesians 1: 20 – 23, Paul stresses the need to bear this hope to the sick and with other colleagues. Additionally, we are called upon to not only hope in the hope, but rather have knowledge of God’s hope to provide us with peace and joy when we believe and be abound in the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13).

In the case study, James’s health has deteriorated to the level that it now requires that a kidney transplant from his twin brother Samuel. However, an ethical and moral lie with the parents to allow their son to part with his kidney in a bid to save his other brother. In the Christian view, this decision goes against the Creator’s wishes, as he wants every part of the body to be where he created them. However, the twin brothers should not view this as a punishment from God but should understand that every choice that we make eventually affect our health.

Personally, my Christian views and personal beliefs find it difficult to accept some of the decisions that are made in this case study. While I have tried to base this paper solely on the Christian perspective, it is no doubt that the worldview in this situation overshadows them. First, I feel it was a mistake for the physician to accept the decision of faith-based healing as opposed to the recommended dialysis. Besides, if the health practitioner had barred them from this decision, James health would not have worsened.

While I understand the importance of providing people with the right to make their family’s welfare and health states, this scenario posed a challenge to James health and life. However, I am very disappointed with the parents’ decision to believe that James would be healed without the recommended treatment without giving a try to the dialysis. The responsibility of Joanne and Mike is just unforgiveable in my view.

Normally, dialysis is always recommended for very sick patients, and when James physician suggested it as the treatment, he/she should have known better to allow the parent’s religious autonomy to be final. That makes me wonder how the physician even allowed the parents’ decision. The worsening of the health is a result of these decisions. Samuel, the twin brother is poised to lose his kidney based on the decisions. Therefore, I feel the horrible feeling of Mike serves him right, and his recognition that he might have made a problem with the initial decision is a positive improvement.


Meilaender, G. (2013). Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative. Bioethics: A primer for Christians. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans. Grand Canyon University.

Shelly, J. A., & Miller, A. B. (2006). Called to care: A Christian worldview for nursing (2nd ed.). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic. ISBN-13: 9780830827657

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