lunes, 15 de agosto de 2016

MercatorNet: Gold medallist paralympian from Belgium seeks euthanasia

MercatorNet: Gold medallist paralympian from Belgium seeks euthanasia

Gold medallist paralympian from Belgium seeks euthanasia

Marieke Vervoort has become an ambassador for the right-to-die movement
Michael Cook | Aug 13 2016 | comment 1 

The end-of-life wishes of a gold medallist at the Paralympics have again raised the question of what makes a person eligible for euthanasia in Belgium.
Marieke Vervoort won a silver in the 200 metre wheelchair sprint and a gold in the 100 metre event. But she has told the media that she may request euthanasia after competing at Rio. “Rio is my last wish, hopefully I can finish my career on the podium,” Vervoort said in an interview with Le Parisien. “I have a bucket list, including stunt flying, and I have started to think about euthanasia.”
Ms Vervoort has a degenerative disease which causes her great pain, but she can still compete at a high level in a range of sports, including basketball, swimming and triathalons.
"When I sit in my racing chair, everything disappears,” she told Le Parisien. “I expell all the dark thoughts; I fight off fear, sadness, suffering, frustration. That's how I won the gold medals."
But after Rio she says that she will have nothing to live for. “"Everybody sees me laugh with my gold medal, but no one sees the dark side,” she says. “Sport is my only reason for living."
She suffers from intense pain at night and has severely impaired vision. She first investigated euthanasia as long ago as 2008. When she takes the final step, she says, “I want everybody to have a glass of champagne in their hand and a happy thought for me.”
As is often the case in news about Belgian euthanasia, the name of Wim Distelmans, the country’s leading euthanasia doctor, crops up. Ms Vervoort is the “ambassador” of Wemmel, his think-tank at the Free University of Brussels. He told De Standaard that she is an example of how the possibility of euthanasia extends lives. "Not just because people do not commit suicide. There are other things too. The certainty that there is an emergency brake to stop the intolerable suffering gives one peace. That frame of mind lets one live longer."
Nonetheless, questions remain. If Ms Vervoort can overcome her pain to strive for Olympic gold, are there no other goals that Dr Distelmans can help her set so that the world will not lose this extraordinary woman to euthanasia? More starkly than ever, this case underscores the suspicion that euthanasia is an existential, not a medical, challenge. It's absurd that Marieke Vervoort's only options are Olympic gold medals or death. 
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet and also of BioEdge, where this article first appeared.


The Olympics is such a rich source of human interest stories that we are finding them all but impossible to cover them in MercatorNet. There's Simone Biles, the diminutive American who is being hailed as the greatest gymnast of all time. There's Katie Ledecky, the American winner of four golds and one silver in the swimming.
There's the Fijian rugby team, who will be carrying home their country's first-ever gold medal. There's Usain Bolt, the aptly named Jamaican who has won the 100 metres in three successive Olympics. There's Michael Phelps, who has become the most decorated Olympian of all time, with so many medals that he is practically a country in himself. Those are all inspiring stories of grit, determination and psychological balance. 
Unhappily we're raining on the parade by highlighting a Belgian paralympian, Marieke Vervoort. In the 2012 Games in London, she took home a gold medal in the 100 metre wheelchair sprint and this year she is a contender as well. But after the Paralympics have finished she is thinking of seeking euthanasia. “Sport is my only reason for living," she says. The doctors handling the case of this remarkable athlete ought to be deregistered. What sort of medicine do they practice in Belgium? 

Michael Cook

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