(This development has inspired Exit’s own initial research into the usefulness of such a modification to a CPAP machine in terms of an end of life device. In the Exit case, instead of oxygenated air being delivered at pressure, an inert gas such as nitrogen could be used. Because the nitrogen would be delivered at a positive pressure, a face mask could be used (because leakage would not be an issue). Details of the proposed modification process will be provided in future updates to the eHandbook.)
Ways to Speed up a COVID-19 Death
A COVID death from acute respiratory syndrome is unlikely to be particularly easy (or peaceful) as one fights to draw air into stiff, water-logged lungs. There is, interestingly, a number of drug options that could be employed to speed this dying process: to make it quicker and easier. To bring it closer to the ‘acute, short and not often painful’ description of Osler’s ‘old person’s friend’.
The most distressing symptom in a COVID death is the dyspnea, (shortness of breath) and ‘air hunger’ that comes from the inability of the lungs to absorb sufficient oxygen: or allow the removal of carbon dioxide from the body. It is the accumulation of CO2
that lowers the blood pH leading to an acute and life-
threatening respiratory acidosis (when blood becomes acidic) with the symptoms of headache and confusion added to the desperate search for breath.
There exist several ways to alleviate these symptoms and make one’s death a little easier.