Doctor admits to euthanising a dementia patient four years ago
Saturday, 30 November 2019
The doctor told his story in order to open up the debate on euthanasia. Credit: Belga
Four years ago, a specialist doctor helped euthanise a man with dementia, De Morgen reported on Saturday.
Euthanasia is illegal, but the doctor told his story in order to open up the debate on the subject, he said.
The patient in question was suffering from juvenile dementia. Prior to his illness, there had never been discussion within the family about possible euthanasia and there was no declaration of intent. But during his illness, according to the family and caregivers, the patient had repeated several times that he wanted to “go”. The family sought assistance, to no avail.
The law on euthanasia stipulates that only a conscious and capable adult patient may request euthanasia.
However, the Open Vld (Flemish Liberal Democrats) announced last week that it wanted to extend euthanasia to people with dementia. The party wants euthanasia to be possible for people with advanced dementia who had indicated in advance that they wanted to be euthanised in such a case.
The family eventually found a doctor who listened. He said he was well aware that the act he performed was outside of the scope of the current law. “I hope that this story will show above all how complex and individual it all is and how carefully you must deal with all people involved. The [current] extension of the euthanasia law is not enough,” the doctor said.