A healthy 81-year-old UK woman, Joy Tompkins, has had a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) tattoo inked on her chest in case she’s taken unconscious to hospital and staff want to revive her. “If I’m found and I can’t say anything, I want the doctors to know,” she says.
Tompkins does not have a death wish: “I’ve had 81 good, interesting years of marriage and children and grandchildren and plenty of friends. I’m quite happy if I wake up in the morning, but if I don’t I’m just as happy.”
As insurance in case she’s found face down, she’s also had a tattoo placed on her back that reads PTO (please turn over) with an arrow pointing to her chest DNR tattoo.
Funny as her case may seem on first reading, she may have a point. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) attempts to restore breathing or blood flow to those whose heart has stopped beating often is not successful, even in hospital. Only 15-20 per cent who have CPR treatment are ever able to go home, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).
Rib fractures and brain injury pose significant risks, and a National Health Service (NHS) leaflet for patients, relatives and carers says: “Most patients never get back the physical or mental health they had before they were resuscitated. Some have brain damage or go into a coma.”