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Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics' new Web site helps ease end of life

September 2009

A bioethicist at The UT Health Science Center San Antonio began having end-of-life discussions not in a classroom or hospital but around the dinner table when he was a boy.

Craig M. Klugman, Ph.D., an assistant director at the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics, is the son of an estate attorney and a nurse. Dinnertime conversations in his childhood home regularly touched on end-of-life issues.

Then, at age 16, he witnessed his grandmother dying in a nursing home. The woman was tied down with restraints because she kept trying to pull out her feeding tube, and Dr. Klugman's father demanded that it be removed. Staff at the nursing home refused. "And my father said, 'You're going to remove it, or I'm going to stand over her and yank it out myself,'" Dr. Klugman recalled. "This made a big impression on a 16-year-old."

Inspired by these experiences, Dr. Klugman has created a Web site to ease the end of life for the dying and their families. The Web site - www.TexasLivingWill.org - not only has the forms needed to complete an advance directive but also walks Texans through the process.

"Our goal is to help people give a gift that enables families to know what loved ones would have wanted and to take away any guilt about making a wrong decision," Dr. Klugman said.

TexasLivingWill.org is available in English and Spanish, and it includes a number of forms to help Texans in their health care planning. While the forms use the required legal language, the interactive Web site explains in plain language how to fill them out.

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