Although at first blush, Hurricane Katrina may not seem like a bioethics issue, the impact of the devastation bleeds over into all areas of our lives, including those of us in the field of bioethics. The hospitals in the affected vicinity are struggling with no electricity or water, evacuation of the critically ill, not to mention unsanitary conditions One of the physicians commented that they are making rounds by flashlight and they have no ability to check laboratory values on patients.
In the face of such an unprecedented natural disaster in the US, how can we, in the field of bioethics, respond? Certainly, this type of situation can bring out the worst of humanity, as witnessed by the looting and rioting reported; but it can also bring out the best of humanity as we gather our resources together and volunteer our time and efforts. We must respond with kindness and love, and all that entails -- I forget who said that "Our acts of kindness warm the coldness of people's lives." And whether it be through donations to the American Red Cross Hurricane Relief or prayers or donating blood, our response will be a reflection of how we choose express our humanity.