(WSVN) - A South Florida couple thought they had everything in order for when their time came. They didn’t want to be resuscitated and suffer, so they signed legal documents, but as the Nightteam’s Patrick Fraser reports, their last wish was not granted, leaving a widow fuming about how the love of her life was treated.
When Barbara says God sent Robert to her, she is serious because she prayed for a man like him at church the Sunday before she met him.
Barbara Lewis, Robert’s wife: “And I ordered him, and he showed up at my open house on Wednesday morning. That’s how we met.”
They shared 31 wonderful years together, and as they got older, shared several health scares.
Barbara Lewis: “We had both very severe life-threatening medical conditions.”
Conditions so severe they both made a promise to let each other go peacefully when their time came.
Barbara Lewis: “No resuscitation for either one, ever.”
They went to an attorney and filled out a living will, marking no ventilator, feeding tube or cardiac resuscitation.
Barbara Lewis: “We signed living wills, which is basically no DNR, and it’s on a white sheet.”
Then in September, Robert didn’t feel great, and they decided to go to the hospital. As they were leaving, Robert faltered.
Barbara Lewis: “I could hardly hold him, and I knew.”
Instinctively, Barbara dialed 911, and while she was speaking to the operator, it happened.
Barbara Lewis: “She said, ‘Do you have a pulse?’ I said, ‘No,’ and at the same time, this very large amounts of brown liquid came from his nose, his mouth.”
Barbara said Robert was dead, and a few minutes later, the paramedics arrived.
Barbara Lewis: “And I said to them, ‘Please don’t resuscitate this man, don’t touch him.'”
They asked Barbara for proof Robert did not want them to attempt to restart his heart. She ran and got their living will.
Barbara Lewis: “They pushed it aside, and they said, ‘Do you have a yellow paper?’ ‘What freaking yellow paper? What are you talking about?'”
Barbara says when she couldn’t show the yellow paper, they went to work.
Barbara Lewis: “They put this mechanical machine on him, smacking like this, and I screamed at them several times, ‘Stop.'”
Barbara says a deputy told her if she didn’t stop hollering at the paramedics, she would be taken away, and so she grew quiet.
Barbara Lewis: “I sat and watched them torture my husband, torture.”
They couldn’t restart Robert’s heart. He was officially dead, but Barbara’s anger at what he went through did not end.
Barbara Lewis: “It tears me up. It tears me up, all because I don’t have a yellow form. Who knows about a yellow form?”
This is the yellow form the paramedics were talking about — a do not resuscitate order signed by the patient and their physician, so even if you have a living will that says do not resuscitate, without the yellow form, the paramedics are required to try to resuscitate you, exactly what Robert and Barbara did not want.
Barbara Lewis: “His wishes were not respected.”
Kenneth Scheppke, State EMS Medical Director: “Yeah, the DNR order is very specific.”
Dr. Kenneth Scheppke is with the Florida Health Department and says the living will is normally used in a hospital, but if you are at home or outside, paramedics need to see the yellow DNR form.
Kenneth Scheppke: “Once properly filled out, it allows EMTs and paramedics to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation. That’s the reason why it’s yellow, so it’s easily spotted.”
Barbara Lewis: “I’m so traumatized.”
Barbara will never forget what she went through simply because she had no idea about a yellow piece of paper.
Barbara Lewis: “I think it’s a big injustice to those that are very sick and do not know about this yellow form.”
Robert wanted to die peacefully.
Instead, Barbara was left tormented that she wasn’t able to grant his last wish.
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