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Paralysed woman demands right to die

TT/The Local · 18 Mar 2010, 09:35

Published: 18 Mar 2010 09:35 GMT+01:00

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Doctors are willing to help the woman and end her treatment, but the board remains sceptical to the woman's request, according to a report in the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

The woman was born with a neurological illness that has led to a continuous deterioration of her condition. In her letter to the board she writes that she would have suffocated herself if only she had been able.

"I can not breathe by myself. Not a single breath. I am not able to move at all," she wrote in the letter dictated to two counsellors at Danderyd Hospital in Stockholm.

The woman has asked the welfare board that she be allowed to be put to sleep so that she can die with dignity.

"It is my express wish that the respirator is turned off after I have been put to sleep," she wrote.

The 31-year-old's situation brings the controversial issue of euthanasia, and a patient's right to decide over their own life-support treatment, into the spotlight.

Story continues below…

The Swedish Society of Medicine's ethics delegation argues that the woman has the right to decide whether her care should be discontinued, but has written to the welfare board to seek clarification.

"It is a difficult balance between the patient's right to say no to continued treatment and the deliberate action required to end life support," said Maria Jacobsson at the welfare board to the newspaper.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:18 March 18, 2010 by SeattletoUmeå
They need to let her do it. Sad to read things like this.
11:21 March 18, 2010 by pallomamy
i really feel sorry for the poor woman!
11:36 March 18, 2010 by glamshek
This is where the technology is playing foul. Let the nature take on. Very sad part of technology. Its sad that Europe is so good at technology but it does not have any understanding for emotions and values. Technology is not the answer to everything.
11:53 March 18, 2010 by Nemesis
Ethically this is a nightmare.

But from her point of view, it is a different thing.

I am very uncomfortable with this, but in this case I do understand her reasons.
12:08 March 18, 2010 by Kaz
If you too support euthanasia then you can join the organization Rätten till en värdig död and get help writing to our politicians urging them to change the law. Almost 80% of the population are pro-euthanasia. Maybe I'll be the one next with a painful deadly disease wishing I could take a lethal pill but not being allowed to because of this county's laws.

Let's hope none of us ever need to wish for euthanasia for ourselves or for someone we love,

Best regards


member of RTVD

12:15 March 18, 2010 by Sjayna
The woman has the right to choose her threatment and she has the right to dignity, so its unrespectable to deny her right to determine over her dying! Euthanasia should be part of modern society and its disgraceful that there are people who dont realize that there are many types of suffering that are much worse than death. Get rid of this 'Life is sacred' thinking, its outdated...
12:54 March 18, 2010 by wifey
This is a tough one...
13:06 March 18, 2010 by Audrian
I agree with nemises, kaz and sjayna. Modern medicine can be as cruel as it is useful. Without rational control it can cause harm. Clinging to old religious concepts written some some thousand years, it is making the lives of persons like this woman in the story havoc.

In Belgium the rising of a person from a comma that lasted for about 20 years has become another excuse not to rush in pronouncing a dead person dead. The Belgium man is awake but in terrible condition. Deformed and with very little capacity to talk or do anything by himself. I hope he writes about his ordeal.

The amount of money spent to force this woman live could have rented apartment for 1000 homless persons, who otherwise love life but failed to make decent lives for themselves.
13:07 March 18, 2010 by calebian22
Life is sacred, but the quality of life is important too. If she is of sound mind to choose to end her life, someone else's morality should not hinder her decision.
13:22 March 18, 2010 by believe
It must take a lot of courage to make this kind of decision. I think it would be harder to make it for myself, than for a family memeber to do it. I once worked in a nursing home where this woman would always aspirate her food. The family chose to not give her a feeding tube or to feed her anymore. This poor woman would beg for water! I honestly couldn't take it, and I quit that job shortly after. I really think I would have rather seen her aspirate than to beg for food or water. I pray that none of us will ever have to make this decision for ourselves or any of our loved ones. Good health to you all!
13:56 March 18, 2010 by karex
This isn't life, it's torture. She is of sound mind and can choose for herself. I would have done the same. Our laws often allow us to be far more humane to animals than to people.
14:10 March 18, 2010 by livinginsweden
I can understand her wish.... because it is same wish if I am in similar situation.

Thousands of new fetuses are terminated each year. This show how wrong our value system is .....

May your wishes come true for you.
14:19 March 18, 2010 by hjoian
I am SOOOOOOO glad to see everyone support this womans wishes. Anyone who has watched a loved one suffer to the end will understand that sometimes there is a lack of human compassion in medicine. I wish her a painfree departure.
14:53 March 18, 2010 by Audrian
Re Calebian:

Human life is as sacred as any living thing only when humans are constructive. But when humans are destructive they are as notorious as the diseases that we abhor.
15:40 March 18, 2010 by calebian22

I agree. I was speaking more in the abstract, regarding the sanctity of life.
15:57 March 18, 2010 by someoneonthenet
Everyone should have the right to end his/her life for any reason. The most that government should do is make people wait and rethink about their decision for few weeks or months. If the person still wants to end his/her life, he/she should be allowed to do so.
15:57 March 18, 2010 by RoyceD
Or instead of spending billions on fake boobs and chin lifts, we as a global society could put more attention on issues that make her life so bad that she feels she is better off dead.

We have had people climb mount everest with no legs, I've seen a man with no lower torso - absolutely nothing from the naval down - using a skate board to get around UNIVERSITY. There is so much power within the human mind if it is given even a slight glimmer of hope. This is what this woman needs in my opinion. Not the choice to turn off the machine, but the choice between what type of mobile respirator she could chose to go with her mobility unit.

For crying out loud we had f11 stealth bombers in the 70s, years before they were made public knowledge. And it makes you wonder what there is today that is being used for futile things like war, that could give that glimmer of hope for this poor woman who has given up of any chance of a better life.

We are the only animals on earth that commit suicide, why are we not asking why?
16:38 March 18, 2010 by glamelixir

Who told you so? Science has not agreed on that yet, some also support the idea of some species stop feeding or take other radical decisions that will lead the to death. Suicide is not always the way we take it in our knowledge. Of course you won't see a whale entering a gun shop and buying a riffle.

On the other hand all those cases that you are explaining are related to people with other personality types too, we can not generalize, there is perfectly healthy people who just want to spend their lives lying in bed depressed and lots of others that just don't want to live. It is not a matter of giving her hope it is a matter of respecting individual decisions.

And as for the medical industry, well, it is what it is an industry, sad but true. Does it really surprise you that some diseases are still around? Does it seem to you as it is a matter of investigation founding? I don't think so.

Just as this person, plugged and dependent to a hospital and medicines keeps the money rolling to that industry, and that is what they ultimatly want not her decision.

I personally don't know how I would react in her position, I am too much of a coward I guess to take such a radical decision, but if it is what she wants... She knows better than us how it feels to be 25 years living under those circumstances.

I could NEVER take that decision for a family member though. It is a tough topic to give an opinion on.
16:59 March 18, 2010 by Swedesmith
If I had a family pet in that condition, out of compassion I would have it "put to sleep." If I were in that condition, I would hope that someone would have the same compassion for me.
20:42 March 18, 2010 by Wetallica
So saad :(
21:32 March 18, 2010 by Rahelli
the answer is only GOD
22:55 March 18, 2010 by dizzymoe33
If she were a dog or an injured animal she would have put down and put out of her misery a long time ago. She should have the right to decide when to end her suffering. There is no hope or cure for her. Here in Washington State we passed the law where a person who has no hope for a cure or chance of surviving with out the aid of lifesupport can file for the right to die.

I hope they won't make her suffer any more.
23:14 March 18, 2010 by browneyes10
Sad news.

God help her.

All those who agree to sleep her permanently, will also say the same if unfortunately they have their beloved family member in the same position ?

The amount of money spent to force this woman live could have rented apartment for 1000 homless persons, who otherwise love life but failed to make decent lives for themselves (by Audrian)

@Audrian, it is not ALWAYS good to think like that.
00:31 March 19, 2010 by soultraveler3

"All those who agree to sleep her permanently, will also say the same if unfortunately they have their beloved family member in the same position ?"

Yes, I would agree in a heartbeat if a member of my family in that position wanted to go peacefully. Of course it would hurt and I'd be sad but I'd also be happy that they weren't suffering anymore and that I had been able to give them one last gift of honoring their wishes for a peaceful ending.

Living trapped in a body that cannot breathe and cannot move would be the worst kind of prison for most people. Having someone else's moral code forcing you stay in that state longer than you want would be a nightmare.

With today's technology it's possible to keep many people "alive" in some form or another almost indefinately. Common sense and respect must grow alongside technology so that we can continue to not only know what we're capable of doing but what we should be doing.

We thankfully, can help our furry family members pass peacefully when it's their time. Why can't we don't that for everyone?
07:30 March 19, 2010 by karex

Have you ever seen someone in an iron lung? All that shows is their face. All they can move is their eyes. They have a mirror in front of them so they can see themselves and a bit around them. This woman has been in this condition for 25 years. She has seen no life. She sees no nature unless it is a picture someone shows her. What kind of hope do you propose we give her? To get married, have kids, climb mount everest? It is just too cruel.

BTW, humans are not the only creatures to take their own lives. I can think of whales and dolphins to name a few and euthanasia happens in nature all the time, but not for the benefit of the individual but of the collective. Many groups of animals leave old, sick and feeble individuals behind to starve when their condition puts the group's well-being at risk.
08:16 March 19, 2010 by wakker
I didn't know Sweden was so backwards that this should be an option. In many european countries (at least in Holland or Switzerland) she would have gotten euthanasia without ado, especially if only passive action (i.e. shutting down machinery) is required.
11:37 March 19, 2010 by kenny8076
i still never understood why other people CARE what someone else wants to do with THEIR life. how would her disconnecting the breather and dieing away from this horrible life going to impact anyone else. people are murdered and slain every single day and everyone seems to be able to carry on. This isnt a hard ethical problem. its simply a bad situation where a human should be able to choose whether they live or breath through a tube there whole life paralyzed.

and royce that might be the dumbest thing ive every heard. ya legless people have climbed MT. everest..... but how many compared to how many are legless? people can also play sports, but i cant........ not sure what your point is, everyone is different with a different brain and thoughts and will power. Oh and many different species commit suicide, were just the only nosy ones that care about other people doing it.
06:18 March 21, 2010 by suicideisnottheanswer
Euthanasia should not be allowed. God, the Creator, knows when His creatures will give up the ghost and there is no reason to intentionally stop trying to keep someone alive.

One of the craziest things about we earthlings is how many are so excited that with new medical advances we might prolong the human life and make living well into our 100s the norm, while at the same time when most people hit about 60 they seem to think living to 80 is not too pleasant after all. It all seems very mixed up.

I guess we need to face facts, God wants us to think of the hereafter and where we will spend eternity. We can't deny that we are all living under the curse and that the bodies we have been given thus far are not to be trifled with. I guess some will get glorified bodies when Jesus comes for His own and others will spend eternity in the lake of fire. It is better to repent, believe, and follow Jesus than to suffer the latter. I hope others agree.
15:33 March 21, 2010 by yogiman
I have told my children that if I ever get bedridden I am ready to go. For the government to force this young woman to simply lay in bed for a quarter of a century is an override by the government.

The girl should have her choice.
16:58 March 21, 2010 by gregory4424
Many people in this post have referred to the act of ending a human life as "putting someone to sleep", we at least need to call it what it is if we are to understand the topic better. What we are really doing is putting someone to death, let's not water it down and call it putting someone to "sleep".
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