May 19, 2024

Quadriplegic Quebec man chooses assisted dying rather than live with bedsores

A quadriplegic Quebec man has chosen assisted dying because of a bedsore he acquired when a hospital failed to give him a special pressure mattress. 

In January Normand Meunier went to the emergency section of a hospital in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, for a respiratory complaint. He lay in a stretcher for four days without a pressure-relieving mattress and developed huge bed sores on his buttocks. 

The misery, apparently, was so great that he requested euthanasia, or, as it is called in Canada, MAID. “I don’t want to be a burden. At any rate, the medical opinions say I won’t be a burden for long; as the old folks say, it’s better to kick the can,” said Meunier.

He died on March 29. 

“That whole story is a crying shame,” Steven Laperrière, of Regroupement des activistes pour l’inclusion au Québec(RAPLIQ), which supports people with disabilities, told CBC News. “What are we doing in order to help disabled persons or sick people to live in dignity prior to dying in dignity?” 

Laperrière said that getting a proper mattress is not like “trying to get a space shuttle into orbit.” “It’s pretty basic … Nobody will convince me that within a few hours the proper mattress could not have been found.” 

Healthcare authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding Meunier’s death. 

Bioethicist Trudo Lemmens, of the University of Toronto, commented that this incident is “an illustration of problems in our health-care system.” Vulnerable people feel as if they are burdens. 

“Then the system responds by saying: ‘well, you have access to medical assistance and dying,'” said Lemmens. “Medical assistance in dying is more easily available and on a more regular basis than some of the most basic care.”