Twin brothers in Belgium who were deaf since birth, lived in the same apartment and worked as cobblers were euthanized by lethal injection last month after they learned they were losing their eyesight as well.
The identical 45-year-olds couldn’t bear the thought of eventually not being able to see each other any more, the Daily Telegraph reported. It was an unusual cased based on Belgium’s law, which allows euthanasia by request if the doctor also considers the patient in unbearable pain. New additions to the law also allow for euthanasia of children and patients with Alzheimer’s, according to the Telegraph.
These men, though, were not terminally ill or physically suffering in the traditional sense.
Here’s more from the Telegraph featuring Dr. David Dufour, who presided over the euthanasia decision that was carried out on December 14, 2012:
“They were very happy. It was a relief to see the end of their suffering,” he said.
“They had a cup of coffee in the hall, it went well and a rich conversation. The separation from their parents and brother was very serene and beautiful. At the last there was a little wave of their hands and then they were gone.”
After its initial report, which did not name the brothers, the Telegraph in a separate article identified them as Marc and Eddy Verbessem. The story had an added controversial twist at this point as the Telegraph reported the first time the twins requested euthanasia, they were denied. They sought out a hospital that would consider their argument that they were in fact in unbearable pain at the thought of not seeing each other and would allow for the mercy killing they requested.
Here’s what the twins’ older brother Dirk Verbessem told the Telegraph:
“Many will wonder why my brothers have opted for euthanasia because there are plenty of deaf and blind that have a ‘normal’ life,” he said. “But my brothers trudged from one disease to another. They were really worn out.”
Mr Verbessem said his twin brothers were going blind with glaucoma and that Eddy had a deformed spine and had recently undergone heart surgery.
“The great fear that they would no longer be able to see, or hear, each other and the family was for my brothers unbearable,” he said.
The Telegraph pointed out that in 2011 about 1,133 patients were euthanized. If euthanasia as a practice wasn’t controversial enough, it also noted that some of the organs of patients euthanized in the country were being harvested. With a shortage of some organs for transplant, this would raise the issue of patients who might not otherwise be candidates for euthanasia potentially being cleared anyway.
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