Identical Belgian twin brothers, born deaf, becoming
blind and unable to bear not being able to see and hear each
other, had their wish to die granted in a case testing the
boundaries of legal euthanasia.
Doctors gave the 45-year-old twins lethal injections after
they had had a cup of coffee together and said goodbye to
each other, a spokesman at the UZ Brussel hospital said.
"It's not simply that they were deaf and blind that they were
granted the right to euthanasia. It is that they could no
longer bear being unable to hear or see the other," he said.
Belgium is one of few countries where euthanasia is legal.
A patient must be an adult, capable of making a judgment, and
the wish to die must be voluntary, overwhelming and repeated.
The patient must also be suffering persistent and unbearable
mental or physical pain beyond medical help.
In addition, the condition must be serious and incurable, and
have been brought on by illness or injury.
"Unbearable suffering can be mental as well as physical," the
hospital spokesman said. "The brothers were inseparable. They
lived together and had the same job."
He said the brothers died on December 14 and that their
family supported their wishes.
Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002 and the number of cases
has risen every year since. In 2011, 1,133 were granted the
right to die, of which 86 percent were at least 60 years old
and 72 percent suffering from cancer.
The Netherlands and Luxembourg have both decriminalised
euthanasia. Switzerland allows assisted suicide if the person
concerned takes an active role.