Doctor ‘predicts death’ with invention that gives terminal patients exact time

A doctor claims that he can predict death and hopes to use the bombshell new invention to predict the exact time of death.

Doctor Séamus Coyle says he has developed a model to predict the time when lung cancer patients will die.

The 53-year-old from Liverpool now wants to develop tests so that the families of terminal patients will be able to say a proper goodbye to their loved ones.

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The consultant in palliative medicine at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, originally specialised in oncology – cancer care.

The doctor is now taking efforts to share his expert knowledge to help patients and families better understand symptoms.

"They don't get a chance to say goodbye and that's really important. People live with that kind of guilt for the rest of their life", he said, as reported by the Liverpool Echo.

"But imagine you had something that says, 'Actually, you're shutting down, your family needs to be here'."

Dr Coyle has worked for years with cancer patients but he has never quite been able to figure out accurately when patients would die.

He said: "Despite decades of cancer research and 5,000 years of medicine, we do not know how cancer kills and predicting when someone dies of lung cancer is largely down to the judgement of a clinician as there is no accurate test available to determine this.

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"What happens is people become unwell, the GP says 'It might be an infection, we'll give them antibiotics'.

"They're brought in, they're really unwell, their symptoms are worse, and there's that period of uncertainty."

"You go, 'It might be an infection, we don't know what's going on, we think they're unwell, they could be dying, they could be in the last weeks of life'. It's that vague if you're lucky."

Together Dr Coyle and other researchers have released a paper in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences which shows urine may be the key to predicting death.

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In the paper, they said there is possible evidence of chemical changes in patients' urine in the final weeks before they die.

In the study, 144 samples of advanced lung cancer patients were tested for any metabolic changes.

Dr Coyle said the smell of the urine is very important during the investigation.

He said: "We look at the components of smell. Basically, when you take urine and boil it to 60 degrees, everything that boils off is what's called the volatile organic compound – things you smell."

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In the compound, the researchers found evidence of changes associated with the dying process in cancer.

From this, they were able to create a model to essentially predict the deaths of patients within the four weeks leading up to their death.

Dr Coyle said knowing the time of death of loved ones can help people decide whether they want to die at home, in a hospice or a hospital.

He also believes the same approach can be used to predict death from other causes.


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