Medical Euthanasia.

When it comes to assisted suicide or medical euthanasia I have always felt strongly for this topic. Although there are many stages in one’s life where this decision may be a consideration, my reflection will be solely on medical euthanasia and assisted suicide in elderly people with terminal illness.

Euthanasia is described at the medicalized killing or withholding and withdrawing futile treatment. Euthanasia requires the medical consent of the patient involved. (Materstvedt, et al., 2003)

Elderly people with terminal illness should be allowed to make the decision about whether they live or die. From personal experience with my grandmother Audrey, where I was personally involved, it was a struggle for my mother to watch her Audrey deteriorate into a state where she was unable to comprehend any aspect of life whatsoever. Audrey was diagnosed with Altziemers disease, specifically frontal lobe dementia.  Before Audrey deteriorated into a non-comprehensive state, she signed a do not resuscitate (DNR). She had stated previously, that she didn’t want to live through the development of the disease. Having to watch someone forget the names of their partner, family members and loved ones is a terrible thing to experience and can be deemed unfair on the people involved. This opinion may be harsh, however Audrey had previously stated that she did not want to live through the disease specifically for that reason. I’m certain many people in the world have been in a similar situation and the opinions of others would be appreciated.

Linking physiotherapy to euthanasia and assisted suicide can be achieved by referring to my first block at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) in Cape Town, South Africa; where I was placed in the Medical and Oncology Ward.  In these ward’s, we see a lot of patients with end-stage terminal cancer for palliative care. On many occasions I have arrived at the ward to treat my patient and unfortunately had no patient to treat, as they had passed over during the night. These patients are constantly in pain and struggle with every physical movement they make. Patients suffering from terminal-disease should have the choice of medical euthanasia or not, due to the nature of the inevitable outcome, death.


Materstvedt, L., Clark, D., Ellershaw, J., Førde, R., Gravgaard, A., Mu¨ ller-Busch, H., . . . Rapin, C. (2003). Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: a view from an EAPC Ethic Task Force. Palliative Medicine, 97-101.






One Reply to “Medical Euthanasia.”

  1. Firstly, I am sorry to hear about your Grandmother. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to watch someone you love and cherish become this empty vessel of lost memories. I agree that if they choose their life to go this way then they should be allowed to. She was still able to comprehend what her actions (signing the DNR) entailed and for the sake of her family, she wanted to spare you the pain. That is a very selfless act in my eyes. As difficult it is to let someone go, it’s their choice and the best thing you can do is support them through the process. As for turning up to patients the next day to find out they passed away, I, as cruel as this may sound, was slightly relieved when a couple of patients of mine had passed away because it killed me inside seeing them suffering so badly and knowing there was nothing I could do to ease their suffering.


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