Euthanasia: Why my friend “killed” her son

Ending the life of a loved one is often a very difficult decision to make. I talked to a lady who made an uncommon decision to end the life of her only son.

My friend *E “killed” her son.

That is what I concluded when she told me the logic of ending her son’s seven months of suffering.

Her son (early 30’s) was involved in a deadly car crash. He went into a coma and doctors declared him brain-dead. All his body parts were OK but his brain was not functional.

“He was a vegetable,” E tells me.

E asked the doctors, psychologists and the attending Neurologist to be honest with her. Her son would never wake up, he would never marry the blonde blue-eyed fiancé he had introduced to his mother, he would never walk, eat or even breathe on his own. He would never raid his mum’s kitchen when he visited her with his buddies.

After additional scans and more opinions, E decided to move her son from the specialised hospital to a palliative care facility near her home. He was still feeding through a tube and was on oxygen 24/7.

How long?

The dilemma was how long to keep him alive. It was going to seven months. She was old, in her 60’s and the pain of seeing her son in a vegetative state was eating her soul. He was on oxygen and eating through tubes.

Guess what E did? Since the home couldn’t legally turn off the oxygen, she asked the hospital to stop feeding him. In a week, her son starved to death.

She donated his body parts to the medical school, gave his fiancé a portion of the insurance money and donated the rest to Charity.

E told me watching her son dead was better than seeing her once healthy and lively son stuffed with tubes.

As E takes her last lap of her life, she often reminds me to think of what I will FEEL when I am also at my end. If I am asked to repeat my life again, I will say a big YES! I do not have regrets!”

Types of mercy killing

Medical News Today defines Euthanasia as when a doctor is allowed by law to end a person's life by a painless means, as long as the patient and their family agree. I also discovered there is something called Assisted suicide. This is when a doctor assists a patient to commit suicide if they request it.

Euthanasia is further classified as voluntary or involuntary.

Voluntary is when euthanasia is conducted with consent while non-voluntary is when euthanasia is conducted on a person who is unable to consent due to their current health condition - like in the case of E's son. The decision is made by another appropriate person (often a close relative), on behalf of the patient, based on their quality of life and suffering.

Then there is Involuntary. This is when euthanasia is performed on a person who would be able to provide informed consent, but does not, either because they do not want to die, or because they were not asked. This is called murder, as it's often against the patient's will.

*I have used E to protect the identity of my friend. This story has been shared with her express permission. 

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