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Dying to Breathe

Viewing Ideas

Before Watching

  1. Ask half of the class to observe the patients featured in the program, and to focus their observations on the first set of viewing questions. Ask the other half of the students to watch the doctors, focusing their observations on the second group of viewing questions.

    1. What are some of the coping strategies and attitudes of the patients waiting for lung transplants? How do they react to the uncertainty of their situations? How do patients respond when they are told that an organ has been found, or when they discover that they will not be able to receive a lung? How do they react when another patient in the program dies?

    2. As the doctors make decisions about whether or not to transplant certain lungs, what factors do they consider in evaluating the organs to be donated? What issues complicate their decisions? How do they present their decisions to patients?

After Watching
  1. Ask students in each group to report on what they observed.

    1. Patient Group

      • What are some of the toughest decisions faced by the patients?

      • How do they deal with these challenges?

      • How do they discuss these issues with their doctors and families?

    2. Doctor Group

      • What are some of the toughest decisions faced by the doctors?

      • How do they deal with these challenges?

      • What are some of the techniques that they use in discussing their decisions with patients and their families?

  2. Ask both groups these questions: What might you do differently if you were a patient? If you were a doctor?

  3. During the program, intensive care specialist Dr. Tom Todd talks about "stepping over the line" in making decisions about lung transplant surgery. What other types of medical treatments would students define as "stepping over the line"? Some examples they might want to consider are experimental treatments for terminal diseases, gene therapy, or cases where parents decide to have a second child for the purpose of donating the new baby's bone marrow to a sick sibling.

Teacher's Guide
Dying to Breathe

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