Marieke Vervoot, a Belgian Paralympic athlete, won medals at the London and Rio Paralympics. She is now aged 38 and continues to suffer from an incurable spinal degenerative disease, which was diagnosed when she was 21. She has epileptic fits and is now paralysed, with unbearable pain. Nurses visit four times a day to offer pain relief.
Voluntary Euthanasia, has been legal in Belgium for 15 years. It is available if a patient is in unbearable pain, has no prospect of recovery, is able to make a rational decision, and two doctors agree. In 2008 Merieke signed the papers which she may eventually use to request a doctor to end her life.
According to the latest article about Marieke Vervoot, published in The Australian 4 November 2017 ‘Belgium’s struggle to find peace with euthanasia laws‘:
“her enthusiasm for euthanasia is the reason she is still alive…Please tell Australia that if the euthanasia law is adopted it will actually save lives and there will be less suicides, she says, just minutes after enduring four hours of treatment…..When I found out that I could die of my own choosing the weight of dying fell off me. It was another quite extraordinary feeling and I found I could relax about it, she says. Just knowing that when it’s all too much for me, no matter how hard it is, having the papers is enough and I can manage. If I didn’t have these (euthanasia) papers I would have committed suicide by now, so this has given me almost 10 years.”
Just after the 2016 Paralympics, Marieke spoke to the media, including the BBC. She explained that her silver medal in the Rio Paralympics came after 30 hours of violent sickness and a day on a rehydrating drip in the Paralympic village. She said that she was not ready to die, but got great relief from knowing that her “euthanasia papers” are signed and ready to use if the suffering ever gets to great for her.
Click for BBC2 video of Marieke’s Story by English journalist and broadcaster,Victoria Derbyshire, which includes interviews with Marieke, her parents and her close friend 15 December 2016 (12.09 mins)