How do you want to die?

Like most patients, mine wanted to live as long as possible. So when I brought up the option of a small implantable defibrillator for his failing heart, he said yes at once.

The device would be inserted in his chest to monitor his heartbeat and apply an electrical shock if the rhythm turned into something dangerous. It was like the paddles in the emergency room, I told him, but it would always be inside him. In truth, I wasn't sure if a defibrillator was really such a good idea. My patient was near the end of his life. He might live longer than a year, but certainly no more than five.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2018, with the headline 'How do you want to die?'. Print Edition | Subscribe