A 72-year-old woman is in the intensive care unit. She was placed on a ventilator days ago after suffering respiratory distress when her chronic emphysema worsened. I know she said that she wouldn’t want to be kept alive on the machines if she couldn’t get better and go home. Unfortunately she is not getting any better. We may need to decide together whether your mother would want to continue on life sustaining treatment. In general, as Catholics our moral obligation to use these types of treatments depends on a number of things. It depends on when the treatments are being used, the condition of the patient, the burden to the patient and the family, and the hope of success. There are two types of treatments: Ordinary treatments offer a reasonable hope of success and do not cause excessive burden or expense on the family. While extraordinary treatments do not offer a reasonable hope of success or a cause an excessive burden or expense on the family. It is necessary to use ordinary treatments to preserve a person’s life. However, a person may decline an extraordinary treatment to preserve his or her life. When Mrs. Gonzalez’s daughters make the decision of whether to keep their mother on the ventilator, they will do so by asking themselves questions such as: How bad is our mother’s health? What is the benefit and hope of her getting better by providing this treatment? What are the side effects if the doctor said she will not improve? What are the options in providing comfort? Please take the time with your family and loved ones to discuss your end of life care wishes in light of your Catholic faith. Your parish and diocesan offices are available to serve as a resource. At Catholic hospitals. There are also chaplains or ethicists to guide you as well.