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15/05/2008 : A Right to Die

NHCO / Story of the Month  / 15/05/2008 : A Right to Die

Anybody suffering from terminal illness can choose to end their lives if they so wish, and their decision must be lawfully adhered to Dear Doctor, No need for resuscitation if my heart stops, or I can barely move any part of my body, when I can’t breathe on my own or when my brain is dead.


Under these conditions, please help me leave the world in a peaceful manner. Signed Such a letter, though hard on the writer’s relatives and against physician’s ethics, reflects the dream of many a terminally-ill patients. Today, this dream can come true. Following the enforcement of the National Health Act last year, people who do not want to suffer endlessly and be kept alive by life-support systems can now seek a peaceful departure simply through a letter known as a “living will”. Written before one loses consciousness, the living will guides others on how an individual wants medical treatment in case his or her condition is critical and when medical treatment should stop. “Article 12 of the Act allows doctors to deny medical treatment in hopeless cases when the patient’s living will states so”. National Health Commission secretary-general Dr. Amphon Jindawatthana said. He said the living will was beneficial for the patients, their relatives and doctors. “In the past, doctors and relatives were afraid to stop medical treatment even though they knew it wouldn’t really help the patients.” Amphon said.

Prathoomporn Vajarasthiira, 64, said she wrote a living will three years ago because she did not want to put her children and grand children in a difficult situation. “If I don’t do this, they may feel guilty when they have to tell doctors they will let me go”, said the special lecturer at Chulalongkorn University. Hopelessness She said none of her relatives objected to her decision to write a living will that states that “if three doctors convene a meeting and agree that my case is hopeless, please remove me from life-supporting systems”. “To me, breathing without a chance to do things I want to do is not living,” said Prathoomporn, who saw a man spend nearly 30 years in a vegetative state. Amphon said the National Health Act recognized the living will because in so many cases patients had remained in a vegetative state as their relatives were emptying their pockets for the benefit of none. This legislation does not allow mercy killing, though. “After you write a living will, it’s best to deposit it with your relatives or your doctor,” he said. Source: Daily Express by Chularat Saengpassa