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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ashley X Story Becomes More Depressing

Daniel F. Gunther, physician at Children's Hospital in Seattle and primary proponent of the Ashley Treatment, committed suicide. As reported in the Seattle Times today, the family believes a history of depression was the reason for the suicide. Colleagues and family members said the Ashley Treatment had nothing to do with his decision to end his life. According to colleague Dr. Doug Diekema, he considered Gunther to be "a hero for standing up for families" and "without whose courage, confidence, knowledge, open-mindedness and unwavering support the [Ashley] Treatment woud not have been realized"

Like many others I was severely critical of the Ashley Treatment, Gunther and Doug Diekema. In spite of my criticism, I am deeply sorry to learn about Gunther's death. My heart goes out to his family, friends and colleagues. I was also sorry to learn that Gunther was subjected to harrassment when the Ashley Treatment became a media sensation. It is one thing to disagree but something else entirely to harrass a fellow human.

I remain adamently opposed to the Ashley Treatment. For me, Gunther's death highlights the overwhelmingly depressing nature of the Ashley Treatment. I wish his family well and offer them my condolences.


Linda Edwards said...

Thank you for you post about Dr Gunther. Yes, its awfully sad, and I think it diminishes us all that he was compelled to take his own life. We are further diminished, as is Gunther himself, by media's demeaning depiction of him as simply the person who stunted the growth of ashley. It is one thing to be critical of the ashley "treatment" and another to reduce his life and his achievements to the role he played in this. As I understand it, the entire ethics committee in its deliberations at the time were deeply divided and uncertain about whether to proceed with the treatment and unsure about its ethical implications. Reading between the lines, it seems clear that this uncertainty never left Gunther. He remained deeply disturbed by it, and perhaps it deepened his depression. Perhaps he could not longer live with himself. This is the tragedy of Diekema's depiction of Gunther as one who unwavered in his support of the ashley treatment. In reality, Gunther did waver. He was uncertain and anguished, and in this sense, Gunther, too, is a casuality of the ashley treatment.

dimmarie said...

Sorry, Linda, but do not bother to "read between the lines" regarding Dan Gunther's sad ending. A "casualty" of the Ashley treatment?? You are foolish to gather your opinion via what has been reported in the media and do a grave disservice to his memory. As a close friend to Dan, he was at peace with the outcome of the Ashley case, and knew in his heart, and in his professional opinion, that the correct decision had been made by all involved. No, he did not "waiver" he was not "deeply disturbed" by the backlash. You, being someone who did not know him; how dare you.