FJ3 – Coma Care and Ethical Nutrition Choices – The Final Journey with Dr. Stephen Doran M.D. – Discerning Hearts Catholic Podcasts

Episode 3 – Coma Care and Ethical Nutrition Choices – The Final Journey with Dr. Stephen Doran, M.D.

Dr. Steve Doran and Kris McGregor discuss the ethical and spiritual considerations of providing nutrition to patients in a coma or vegetative state. He emphasizes the importance of viewing each case individually, as the circumstances and prognosis can vary greatly.

He also highlights the importance of distinguishing between medical treatment and care, arguing that nutrition falls into the latter category and should not be optional. Dr. Doran encourages families to have conversations in advance about potential medical situations and to appoint a trusted person to make decisions on their behalf, should they become unable to do so themselves.

Dr. Doran also warns against the dangers of blanket statements and generalizations in medical decision-making, and stresses the importance of maintaining a balance between the fear of death and the desire to reach Heaven.

For more episodes in the series, visit The Final Journey: Insights from a Catholic Doctor and Neurosurgeon w/ Dr. Stephen Doran M.D.  – Discerning Hearts Podcasts.


Stephen Doran, M.D., a board-certified neurosurgeon with over twenty-five years of experience, is an ordained permanent deacon and serves as the bioethicist for the Archdiocese of Omaha. His writings in bioethics, neurosurgery, and gene therapy for brain disorders have been widely published in national media outlets, academic journals, and neurosurgery textbooks. He is married with five sons. He co-founded Seeking Truth Catholic Bible Study with his wife, Sharon.

Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

  1. Individualized Ethical Considerations: Reflect on Dr. Doran’s emphasis on viewing each coma case individually. How can this approach guide ethical decisions in patient care?
  2. Medical Treatment vs. Care: Consider Dr. Doran’s distinction between medical treatment and care in the context of nutrition for comatose patients. How can this perspective impact healthcare decisions?
  3. Preemptive Family Conversations: Explore the importance of discussing potential medical situations in advance, as suggested by Dr. Doran. How can preemptive family conversations positively influence decision-making?
  4. Trusted Decision-Makers: Reflect on the recommendation to appoint a trusted person for decision-making. How does this contribute to the ethical and spiritual dimensions of patient care in challenging situations?
  5. Dangers of Generalizations: Contemplate Dr. Doran’s warning against blanket statements in medical decision-making. How can avoiding generalizations enhance the ethical considerations in providing nutrition to comatose patients?
  6. Balancing Fear and Desire: Consider Dr. Doran’s emphasis on balancing the fear of death with the desire to reach Heaven. How can maintaining this balance contribute to a holistic approach in caring for patients in a coma or vegetative state?

You can find the book here

From the book description:

Dr. Stephen Doran draws from his vast experience as a neurosurgeon, a bioethicist, and a permanent deacon to present the Catholic perspective on the art of dying well. The spiritual and moral issues related to death and the process of dying can be challenging and complicated. To Die Well provides a detailed yet readily understandable guide to these topics.

Each chapter begins with a story from Dr. Doran’s personal or professional life that not only provides context for the topic at hand but also gently draws the reader toward the personal realities of dying. The first part focuses on the moral issues that surround death and dying, including end-of-life medical decisions. The second part is devoted to the Catholic spiritual understanding of dying and the rites that accompany the death of a Catholic.

To Die Well will help readers contemplate, pray about, and prepare for the end of their earthly lives.