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Ashiya, Japan -- Dignity of the person and palliative care

Some 60 persons took part in a symposium on palliative care held at the Ohara Bunka Center in Ashiya on October 27. It was organized by the non-profit association VIEW (Values, Ideals, Elegance in the World).

One of the panelists was Dr. Kazuo Onishi, head of the Department of Palliative Care at the Higashi Kobe Hospital, well-known for the services it provided to the city during the 1995 earthquake. He spoke about the care this center tries to provide for terminal patients: “My job,” he said, “is to sustain the patient’s hope, helping them to learn to live with their illness.” He was followed by Ms. Rieko Nagaoka, head nurse at the same hospital, who stressed the great help volunteers provide to the patients and their families and to the medical team.

Dr. Toshinobu Kobayashi, an anesthesiologist, spoke about controlling pain, thus making it possible for patients to have a dignified life—although limited by their illness—that was filled with meaning. He also stressed that the way to prepare for a good death is to live one’s daily life well, with a deep personal examination and self-knowledge.

Fr. Toshihiro Sakai, from the Prelature of Opus Dei, centered his talk on the spiritual and religious care of the sick, and highlighted the importance of listening to the patient in order to comfort them and provide answers filled with hope to their questions about what comes after death.

Romana, No. 49, July-December 2009, p. 348-349.