Two deaf twin brothers in Belgium were euthanized by their doctor after realizing they were going blind and would be unable to see each other ever again, their physician says.
The 45-year-old men, whose names have not been made public, were legally put to death by lethal injection at the Brussels University Hospital in Jette, on Dec. 14.
The story had an added controversial twist at this point as the first time the twins requested euthanasia, they were denied. They sought out a hospital that would consider their argument that they were in fact in unbearable pain at the thought of not seeing each other and would allow for the mercy killing they requested.
Here’s what the twins’ older brother says:
"Many will wonder why my brothers have opted for euthanasia because there are plenty of deaf and blind that have a 'normal' life," he said. "But my brothers trudged from one disease to another. They were really worn out."
Mr Verbessem said his twin brothers were going blind with glaucoma and that Eddy had a deformed spine and had recently undergone heart surgery. "The great fear that they would no longer be able to see, or hear, each other and the family was for my brothers unbearable," he said.
The men, who were born deaf, had a cup of coffee and said goodbye to other family members before walking into hospital room together to die, their doctor told Belgian television station RTL.
"They were very happy. It was a relief to see the end of their suffering," said Dr. David Dufour. "They had a cup of coffee in the hall. It went well and a rich conversation. Then the separation from their parents and brother was very serene and beautiful," he said. "At the last there was a little wave of their hands and then they were gone."
More than 1,000 people legally availed themselves of doctor-assisted deaths in Belgium in 2011, most of them were terminally ill cancer patients. The brothers are unique in that their illness was not terminal. Belgian law, however, allows doctors to euthanize "suffering" patients who are both mentally sound, over 18 and want to die. Belgian lawmakers are considering a law that would extend euthanasia to dementia patients and children, whose families and doctors consented.
Naij.com's note: Euthanasia (from the Greek: "good death" + "death") refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering.