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The Ethics of Healthcare Rationing

April 3rd, 2020 | 16 min read

By Matthew Loftus

The call comes in the middle of my clinic session at the hospital in rural Kenya where I work. I apologize to the patient in front of me and answer my phone. It’s the emergency department at the hospital in rural Kenya where I work.

“Hello daktari, can you come? We have a critical patient in casualty.”

I run down the street to the hospital to find an elderly gentleman lying in one of our emergency room beds. He is clearly struggling to breathe. I learn that he has a history of diabetes and hypertension; he developed a headache and paralysis on one side of his body two days ago. Now he is unconscious with a low oxygen saturation, even with a nonrebreather mask on. The staff are looking at me, wondering what to do.

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Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at