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In the Name of Love, Amelia Betrays Her Friend's Trust!
By Moira McMahon, Researcher
In episode 416, "Love and Lies, " Amelia encourages her friend, Michelle, to take a DNA test that will tell her if she has the genetic marker for Huntington's Disease.
Michelle's mother passed away from the disease and since then, Michelle can't stop thinking about whether or not she'll suffer the same fate.
Huntington's Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder in which the brain atrophies. At first, symptoms can be clumsiness or walking with an altered gate. Later, HD patients lose control of their limbs and experience severe facial ticks that can make speech impossible. Sadly, the deterioration also effects mood and personality. By the time the disease has fully run its course, patients are catatonic, unable to communicate or move from their beds. It is always a fatal disease.
Michelle tells Amelia that she will kill herself if she's going to get Huntington's. Amelia hopes for the best, but the test comes back positive for the gene. One day, maybe soon, maybe far in the future, Michelle will start the painful deterioration she witnessed her mother endure.
Amelia, scared that Michelle will kill herself, lies to her. Amelia tells Michelle she does not have the gene.
Amelia defends her deception to Pete and Violet, claiming she did it for the good of her patient. Michelle will have the same end to her life whether or not she knows the truth. By not telling her she has the gene, Michelle can live a full life until the symptoms begin. Violet convinces Amelia that her friend will be living her life based on a lie. And one day, when the disease does start, she'll need a true friend to be there for her. True friends—and good doctors—don't lie to the people they care for.
Amelia goes back to Michelle and tells her she does have the gene. Michelle is furious with Amelia and terrified to live knowing that Huntington's will end her life one day. Amelia pledges her support to Michelle all the way to the end.
But will Michelle REALLY benefit from knowing her fate or should Amelia have kept up the pretense?
What would YOU do?