Hundreds Attend Community End-Of-Life Discussion

ROCKFORD — Local doctor Charlene Murdakes has learned how difficult it is to lose parents to unexpected situations.

Her father was a local fire chief who died in a rescue attempt. Her mother was in a car crash that left her hooked to machines until the family made the tough decision to terminate her life.

“End-of-life decisions is an area that will affect each one of us during our lifetime as a patient, as a family member and as a friend,” Murdakes told a crowded auditorium Wednesday at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford. “My brother and I wanted to help our mom, but we did not know how. Her brain no longer functioned. For my brother and I, watching my mom lie in bed and not being able to interact with us is not what she would have wanted.”

Rockford’s three hospital systems — Mercyhealth, SwedishAmerican, and OSF HealthCare — along with the university and Transform Rockford sponsored “A New Kind of Heroism,” a community discussion surrounding end-of-life care decisions. Organizers said about 400 were scheduled to attend.

The big draw was Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter, author of “Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life” and featured in the Emmy-nominated film, “Extremis.”

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