Woman dies after passive euthanasia ruling

A 32-year-old woman who was completely paralysed and had been on life support since she was six, died on Wednesday after her respirator was unplugged, in Sweden's first case of euthanasia, a Stockholm hospital said.

“The patient who asked the health board to die, died at 5:33 pm after her respirator was unplugged,” Annakarin Svenningsson, a spokesperson for Stockholm’s Danderyd hospital told AFP.

Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) last month authorised passive euthanasia, whereby patients may request the termination of their treatment knowing that this will lead to their death.

The ruling followed a request for clarification by doctors, as Swedish law allowed for patients to refuse treatment, but assisted suicide – including shutting off respirators – was classified as a crime.

Active euthanasia, such injecting a person with drugs in order to make them die, is still illegal in Sweden.

The change was also made following the request by the 32-year-old woman who died on Wednesday, whose name has not been disclosed.

Totally paralysed and dependent on a respirator since the age of six, she asked requested it be shut off when she was asleep.

“I don’t want to suffer or rot any longer, the respirator is the only thing keeping me alive,” she wrote.

After permission was granted for her to die, the woman told the Expressen daily : “I am very happy and at peace with my soul.”

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Doc freed in baby death case reports colleagues

The doctor who was cleared in the infant euthanasia case in October last year has reported her colleagues to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) for giving what turned out to be a fatal dose of the anesthetic thiopental to the prematurely born and brain damaged baby.

Doc freed in baby death case reports colleagues

According to the trade paper Läkartidningen, the woman has written in her report that several colleagues administered the drug to the baby without entering it in her medical notes.

It was the discovery of lethal levels of thiopental in the baby’s system that led to the suspicions against the doctor in the first place.

During the trial, a nurse testified that she has witnessed thiopental being administered to the little girl on two occasions and there are documents that indicate another two times she was given the drug, but this had not been entered into the baby’s medical chart.

The doctor also criticized the hospital in her report saying that she had previously brought the un-recorded doses to the attention of her superiors without them acting on it.

The case stems from the death of a 3-month-old infant girl at the Astrid Lindgren Children’s hospital in Stockholm in September 2008.

The girl was terminally ill and had serious brain damage after having been born 15 weeks prematurely. The birth was complicated and the baby was born unconscious due to a lack of oxygen.

In consultations with the parents, the girl was taken off life support on September 20th, 2008.

A month later, the girl’s parents filed a complaint with police alleging the newborn hadn’t received proper treatment after an autopsy revealed the infant had received abnormally high doses of thiopental.

During the trial, the parents said that the care their baby had received prior to her death was “beneath contempt”.

But in acquitting the doctor in October, the court said it could not be determined exactly how high a dose the baby had received, nor how the baby received the anaesthetic, and therefore the doctor could not be found guilty.

The Local/rm