Minors can legally be euthanised in Belgium. But there have only been four cases. The latest is an unnamed 16-year-old girl with a brain tumour who also donated her lungs, her liver and her kidneys.
In other countries, this would be incredibly controversial. Can a 16-year-old truly give informed consent to her own death? Was she pressured to donate her organs? Was she made to feel that her life was useless unless she helped someone else by donating organs?
An article in the Belgian newspaper Le Soir profiled the procedure but asked none of these questions. Instead, it painted a portrait of lovely, loving, generous girl. “J’en ai assez, je veux mourir. En aidant des gens. I’ve had enough, I want to die. By helping people” was the headline.
The euthanasia took place in a hospital and lasted 36 hours, according to Le Soir. First she was anaesthetized, then intubated and ventilated. Her organs were examined and advertised on the European donation network, Eurotransplant. Finally she received a lethal injection a few days after her 16th birthday.
The young woman was born in Luxembourg, but moved to Liege, a city in Belgium, after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Anyone resident in Belgium for six months is eligble for euthanasia.
The journalist, Alain Lallemand, writes: “I take her hand to make sure that we understand each other well, that there is no misunderstanding. Yes, she wants to die, without too much delay. But not just anyhow. She will leave this world through the front door, that of generous souls. She wants to give her heart, her liver, her kidneys, her lungs, she wants to give her body to anyone who needs it here on earth, since this life did not really want her and she reluctantly decided to go up there and look.”