105-year-old woman becomes oldest person to die by euthanasia
TORONTO – Germaine de Koninck said she was in constant pain, almost blind and nearly deaf. At the age of 105, the Belgian woman said she could no longer bear living in a care home and seeing her friends die.
On Wednesday, de Koninck became the oldest person in the world to die by euthanasia, an intentional practice of ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering.
“When people congratulated her on her long life she would reply: ‘Thanks but I hope you don’t have to live as long as me’,” said her 82-year-old daughter Greta, who was at her mother’s death bed during the lethal injection procedure. “And when other people living in the same corridor in the home passed away she would say: ‘Why isn’t it me?'”
Greta said her mother could not hear well, could hardly read and spent years in a wheelchair.
“‘She also had poor blood circulation, which caused her severe pain,” she said.
De Koninck was also surrounded by her three grandchildren and other family members. “It was all so tender, so peaceful. It was just beautiful,” her daughter said. “It was as if a great weight had been lifted from her [mother’s] shoulders.”
Belgium passed its controversial euthanasia laws in 2002 and in December 2013 the Senate voted in favour of extending its euthanasia laws to terminally-ill children under the age of 18.
The debate about physician-assisted suicide is also currently before the Supreme Court of Canada and the discussion is creating deep divisions in the legal, medical and disabled communities.
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