In April, as the coronavirus was rampaging through the Northeast, Larry Churchill considered what he would do if the pandemic caused medical shortages. Should he, a 75-year-old, direct care to younger people before him if he got sick?
He was in a good position to raise the question. A bioethicist retired from Vanderbilt University, he published an essay on the Hastings Center’s bioethics forum saying that he intended to avoid hospitals if they became overwhelmed and forgo a ventilator if equipment grew scarce. When a vaccine became available, he would move to the end of the line.
Fortunately, Dr. Churchill has not had to face such decisions. He remains healthy, writing and teaching, and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And enough ventilators were produced to meet demand.