first non-terminal patient to receive euthanasia

For the first time in years, Víctor Escobar stopped taking most of the prescribed medications, including one that prevents bleeding caused by lung disease. You will no longer need them. Escobar will become the first Colombian to receive euthanasia without being a terminal patient on Friday night, if no obstacle stands in his way.

“I feel immense tranquility, I do not fear what is to come,” Escobar, 60, told The Associated Press. “They have told me that the procedure is going to be a slow sedation first, so that I have time to say goodbye. Then there is the euthanasia injection, which will be painless, a very peaceful death. I trust in God that all this is like that, ”he said in a soft voice as he resisted abdominal pain.

Escobar will be the first beneficiary of the historic ruling of the Constitutional Court that in July 2021 changed the rules of euthanasia in the country and allowed it to be applied to people who suffer intense physical or mental suffering due to a serious and incurable disease without that is in terminal phase.

Colombia decriminalized euthanasia in 1997, but only for terminally ill patients, that is, those who have less than six months to live.

From his apartment in Cali, where he was born and will die, Escobar is aware of the importance of his case, unprecedented in Latin America: “It is the door for a patient like me, with degenerative diseases, to have the opportunity to fight for a dignified death” .

His ailments no longer stop even with morphine. He has received palliative care and although it worked at first, it no longer has the same effect. The main cause is the two strokes he suffered in 2008 that made him lose the mobility of half of his body, which he has partially recovered. Then was added the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for which he depends on oxygen to breathe. He also suffers from hypertension, diabetes, severe osteoarthritis, and chondrocostal joint syndrome.

His legal battle to obtain euthanasia began two and a half years ago. She was denied twice by clinics and judges for not meeting the requirement of being in the terminal phase of her illness.

“It was a complicated issue to face justice, political parties, religion and many people with power being someone who only had the media,” he told AP Luis Giraldo, Escobar’s lawyer.

It will be a reserved procedure and the name of the clinic where it will be performed was not disclosed.

Assisted death, although legal, is stigmatized in Colombia, as demonstrated the case of Martha Sepúlveda, who in October 2021 had the procedure canceled hours before it was carried out. One of the reasons was his appearance in the media, which caused the clinic’s medical committee to change its initial verdict. Sepúlveda, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, was to be the first non-terminal patient to be euthanized. The procedure has already been endorsed by a judge, but has not yet been practiced.

Escobar will say goodbye to his three children, his wife, his brother and his cousins ​​over lunch. “I am going to have the opportunity for them to give me their family warmth and their accompaniment and also in my name to thank them. I love my family with all my soul. It will be a day of rejoicing for us and I hope it will be something very private, ”he said.

Escobar has decided to take up the banners of the defense of euthanasia so that it is not a legal battle but an effective right.

His message is aimed at doctors and politicians, especially congressmen, to pass laws that regulate euthanasia in non-terminal patients. The Colombian Congress once again rejected a bill in November that called for regulating the right to a dignified death by failing to obtain the necessary votes to continue its process.

“If we ask for a dignified death, it is because fatigue from all diseases has already overcome us, for us life has already ended a long time ago,” Escobar said with a determined voice from the sofa of his humble house whose mortgage pays with a pension of 250 Dollars.

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