A. Definition: “Heroic measures” refers to the use of extreme emergency measure to prolong a patient’s life when vital processes cease to function. Few topics in medicine are more complicated, more controversial, and more emotionally charged than the decision of whether or not to forego life-sustaining treatment for the hopelessly ill. 

B. Problem: Because of our technological advances in the medical field, we now encounter perplexing moral question that earlier societies never had to face. Heroic measures may extend the life of the patient, but it may also extend the suffering of the patient and family members. Financial debt and a difficult legal climate add to the complexity of this situation. We are faced 
with profound ethical dilemmas. 

For example, does God demand, in every situation, that all medical options available be used to extend the life of one who is dying? Or would God have us, at times, to refuse extraordinary medical procedures and allow the patient to die? If a person is taken off a respirator and allowed to die, has the Sixth Commandment been violated? The answers to these dilemmas depend upon a clear distinction being made between prolonging life when there is hope of recovery and postponing the dying process when it is hopeless. 

On the one, side, heroic measures are indispensable to the practice of modern medicine. Many individuals have been restored to health by their application. On the other side, this technology may be applied thoughtlessly with the tragic consequences of lengthening the dying process and adding unnecessary suffering and expense for the patient and family.8