Sunday March 18, 2018

America celebrates ‘Before I Die I would like to……’ festival

"If you have thought about it when you're not in the midst of a crisis, the crisis will be better."

Graveyard, Image credits
  • This festival was held in mid-April.
  • People talk about what they would like do before death in this festival.
  • Various art and wall paintings related to death are also displayed.

Before I Die Festival is a festival celebrated in the U.S. Held in mid-April, the main purpose of this festival is to get people thinking ahead about topics they want to achieve in their remaining days. i.e. regarding organ donations, funeral arrangements, wills, good and bad deeds etc.

Lucia Wocial, the festival’s organizer and a nurse ethicist at the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics in Indianapolis said: “This is an opportunity to begin to change the culture, to make it possible for people to think about and talk about death so it’s not a mystery”.

A 62 years old Tom Davis has been lately thinking a lot about his life and death. He had a heart attack. Initially, he was planning to jolt but after the attack, he wrote “I want to see my grandkids grow up.”

Several books, films, and death related arts are displayed in this festival. At Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library once 61 pairs of boots were displayed which represented the early death of Indiana soldiers.

There are various other attractions of this unique festival such as

  • Death wall paintings
  • Death Cafes
  • Death discussions among people in the whole city
Art gallery during the festival, Image source :
Art gallery during the festival, Image source :

The festival organiser further told that “Death has changed, Years ago people just died. Now death, in many cases, is an orchestrated event.” This statement can be well supported by the fact now medicines have brought new innovative ways to extend the life expectancy of an individual.

Moreover, workshops on how to write an advance directive are also organised in this festival. Special emphasis was being laid on advance care planning. These documents tell doctors that If someone falls ill and can’t communicate his/her wishes then family members are enlisted in the document will take decisions on his/her behalf. Wocial thinks that “If you have thought about it when you’re not in the midst of a crisis, the crisis will be better.

Jason Eberl, a medical ethicist from Marian University said at the festival that “advance directives can address these financial issues, too. People themselves, in their advance directive, will say, ‘Look, I don’t want to drain my kid’s college savings or my wife’s retirement account, to go through one round of chemo when there’s only a 15 percent chance of remission. I’m not going to do that to them.’ ”

Coming to the festival tours to cremation facilities are also provided. Biodegradable urns are made available to dispose of human ashes. There are many things one thinks of before dying. This festival indeed makes it harder for people to think of a particular one.

Related article :

Prepared by Pritam, an engineering student in Kolkata, India and an intern at Newsgram. Twitter handle : Pritam_gogreen

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Pentavalent vaccine: Doctors raise red flag

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive

the new Hepatitis B vaccine for adults is called Heplisav-B.
India's PV to be reexamined because of its harmful effects. .
  • Pentavalent vaccine was introduced in India six years ago
  • It is since then have been a cause of many deaths
  • Doctors want it to be reexamined before continuing its use

Pentavalent vaccine (PV), that was introduced by India a little over six years ago, doubled the deaths of children soon after vaccination compared to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccine, according to a new study that calls for a “rigorous review of the deaths following vaccination with PV”.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
PV has been cause of many deaths in past years. Wikimedia Commons

Government records show that there were 10,612 deaths following vaccination (both PV and DPT) in the last 10 years. There was a huge increase in these numbers in 2017, which the Health Ministry has promised to study. “The present analysis could be a starting point in the quest to reduce the numbers of such deaths,” authors of the new study say.

The study by Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Pediatrics at St Stephens Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, Professor of Biostatistics at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), both in New Delhi, is published in the peer-reviewed Medical Journal of Dr D.Y. Patil University.

PV is a combination of the DPT vaccine and two more vaccines against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. Starting December 2011, PV was introduced into India’s immunisation programme to replace DPT vaccine in a staged manner with a view to adding protection against Hib and Hepatitis B without increasing the number of injections given to infants.

Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons
Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons

But sporadic reports of unexplained deaths following immunisation with PV had been a matter of concern. Puliyel, Sreenivas and their colleagues undertook the study to find out if these deaths were merely coincidental or vaccine-induced.

The authors obtained data of all deaths reported from April 2012 to May 2016 under the Right to Information Act. Data on deaths within 72 hours of administering DPT and PV from different states were used.

For their study, the authors assumed that all deaths within 72 hours of receiving DPT are natural deaths. Using this figure as the baseline, they presumed that any increase in the number of deaths above this baseline among children receiving PV must be caused by this vaccine.

Also Read: With Medicine Running Out, Venezuelans With Transplant Live in Fear

According to their analysis of the data provided by the government, there were 237 deaths within 72 hours of administering the Pentavalent vaccine — twice the death rate among infants who received DPT vaccine.

Extrapolating the data, the authors have estimated that vaccination of 26 million children each year in India would result in 122 additional deaths within 72 hours, due to the switch from DPT to PV.

“There is likely to be 7,020 to 8,190 deaths from PV each year if data from states with the better reporting, namely Manipur and Chandigarh, are projected nationwide,” their report says.

It is important to make sure that these vaccines are reexamined peroperly. VOA

The authors note that while the study looks at the short-term increase in deaths (within three days of vaccination) it does not calculate the potential benefits of PV on infant mortality, for example by protection against lethal diseases like Haemophilus influenza.

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive. “These findings of differential death rates between DPT and PV do call for further rigorous prospective population-based investigations,” the study concludes. IANS