It often happens that a priest is called to a sick person at the last minute, when the person is lying already unconscious or cannot, by reason of his physical state, receive the Holy Mysteries. Of court, there are cases when illness strikes suddenly, without warning, but more often than not there is a gradual deterioration. When the priest arrives at the bedside of an unconscious person, he sometimes learns that the person has been in the hospital for more than a month, or that he knew of an impending operation but "postponed" receiving the Holy Mysteries until his "recovery". What a weight this lays upon the soul of the priest; had he known earlier that the person was sick, he could have communed him.
Orthodox faithful, if you are going to undergo surgery, prepare yourselves and receive Holy Communion before the operation. If you have to go to the hospital, do not delay calling a priest until the last minute; call him immediately, so that the prayers and the Holy Mysteries will serve unto the healing of soul and body.
(Translated from Blagovestnik, Holy Virgin Cathedral Parish Bulletin, San Francisco, CA; April-May1989)[OA/_private/oabot.htm]