The question of whether 'a will to live' can influence a patient's survival is rarely publicly discussed by doctors.
One of Hugh Montgomery's first patients, when he started working as an intensive-care doctor in 1989, was a 94-year-old woman who had suffered a heart attack while ballroom dancing. "She was a terrific, feisty old dear and we got on really well," recalls Montgomery. "But she ended up getting complications and falling unconscious. It was just a matter of time before she died."
"Every morning when I came into work, I would ask the nurses if she'd died, and they would say no. Then the thought crossed my mind that maybe she was hanging on for me."So I drew the curtains and said to her: 'I don't know if you can hear me, but if you're hanging on for me, you don't have to.' She stopped breathing right then. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I don't think
Montgomery relates the story because he is convinced that there is such a thing as the will to live and, by extension, a will to die. "I've seen this kind of thing happen so much in my work over the years that I don't believe it is a coincidence."
He tells the story of a church organist he treated. "She had a condition which meant she had to be on a drip, but she kept pulling it out. She told me: 'I don't want a drip any more.' I said: 'Your chances of surviving are very low if you don't keep it.' But she told me that Jesus was waiting on the other side and was calling her. She was with her husband and so I said: 'If you're both comfortable with that, do that. I can give you pain relief.' As I got up to go she said: 'Aren't you going to kiss me goodbye?' and so I gave her a kiss and left. Moments later she was dead."
"What I have found again and again is that dying patients hold on for a loved one to arrive - say for a son to get the visa to fly to London and see mother in hospital for one last time. My father, who was unconscious in hospital for the last couple of days of his life, died at the rare moment when we - my mother, sisters and me - were in the room at the same time."
Source - Guardian