by Dr Paul Preston, Physician at the North East Local Health Integration Network, Ontario, Canada.
The first Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) case I performed was for a lady who was suffering and deteriorating. She could no longer do anything she valued and did not want more medications or palliative sedation. On the day of her passing, she wore her best silk pajamas. Her hair was fixed and she had her makeup on. She got into her bed with her favourite song playing in the background. She said her final farewells, spoke softly about playing with her grandchildren by a brook in the woods, and she went to sleep. It was, by far, the most beautiful death I have witnessed in my 31-year career.
More than 90 per cent of people with terminal and advancing illness who request MAID do so not for pain and symptom management, but for existential angst. Patients get an emotional release and reassurance when they know that this is an option for them. I’ve seen patients cry with relief. Whether they proceed or not, a weight is instantly lifted off their shoulders.
I believe this is one of the most important services that can be offered to a suffering, dying patient and their family.