Twin brothers facing blindness choose to die by euthanasia

Jan 14, 2013

Belgian twins Marc and Eddy Verbessem could not bear the idea of never seeing each other again

IDENTICAL twin brothers who were going blind have been euthanised in a Brussels hospital because they could not bear the thought of never seeing each another again.

It emerged today that the euthanasia took place on 14 December when doctors gave lethal injections to 45-year-old siblings Marc and Eddy Verbessem, who were also deaf.

Euthanasia is legal in Belgium. However, the case was unique in that the twins were suffering neither a terminal illness nor unbearable physical pain, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The twin's older brother Dirk Verbessem said his brothers, from Putte, outside Brussels, were "worn out" from disease.

Their request to die in their local hospital was refused because doctors said they did not believe it would be legal. "I do not think this was what the legislation meant by 'unbearable suffering'," one doctor was quoted as saying.

However, David Dufour, a doctor at Brussels University Hospital, was prepared to help them die and said they were "very happy" when the time came.

"They had a cup of coffee in the hall, it went well... The separation from their parents and brother was very serene and beautiful. At the last there was a little wave of their hands and then they were gone."

Belgium became in 2002 the second country in the world to legalise euthanasia, after the Netherlands.

According to the BBC, Belgian law states that if a patient clearly asks for euthanasia and a doctor judges they are suffering unbearable pain they can be lethally injected. This is not the same as in Switzerland, where only "assisted suicide" is legal – meaning patients must take a drug which kills them.

Latest statistics show that 1,133 people underwent euthanasia in Belgium in 2011, accounting for one per cent of deaths in the country. The Daily Mail reports that the majority of those choosing euthanasia were suffering from terminal cancer.

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