Nobody wishes euthanasia, but does it at times become inevitable?


By Jaison Wilson New Delhi, Aug 14 : Most people in India must have seen Switzerland and its scenic beauty through the romantic songs of Bollywood movies, but it may be hard to believe that the mountainous Central European country has been chosen as a destination for Euthanasia (Physician-assisted suicide) for many. Recently, a 49-year-old woman from Kerala approached the Delhi High Court to cancel the emigration clearance of her close friend, a 48-year-old man from Noida, who is allegedly planning to travel abroad for Euthanasia. The man, who does not want to reveal his identity, is bed-ridden and diagnosed with Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which is a complex, debilitating, long-term neuroinflammatory disease. His symptoms started in 2014 and his condition deteriorated over the past eight years. Finally, he decided to go for Euthanasia through Dignitas, an organisation in Zurich, Switzerland which provides physician assisted suicide and he had travelled to Zurich for first round of psychological evaluation in June. "He is now adamant about his decision to go for Euthanasia, which also affects the life of age-old parents miserably. It is humbly submitted that there still persists a ray of hope for the betterment of his condition," as per his female friend's plea. "Right to travel is a fundamental right, but we want to curtail that right due to this extreme situation, the court has to decide in the matter," Advocate Subhash Chandran K.R. told IANS. He said, though his client is an Indian, the law in Switzerland also allows foreigners to do euthanasia, per year roughly 2,000 foreigners go for this purpose." Though we don't have any available data regarding the Indians who ventured to Switzerland for Euthanasia. It's legally possible in that country for both locals and foreigners...," the lawyer said. As per the available data, "By the end of 2020, Dignitas, had assisted 3,248 people with suicide at home within Switzerland and at Dignitas' house/flat near Z├╝rich. They provide advisory work on palliative care, health care advance directives, suicide attempt prevention, and legislation for right-to-die laws around the world." In the protocol to assist suicides, Dignitas uses an oral dose of an antiemetic drug, followed approximately half an hour later by a lethal overdose of 15 grams of powdered pentobarbital dissolved in a glass of water. If necessary, the drugs can be ingested through a drinking straw. The pentobarbital overdose depresses the central nervous system, causing the patient to become drowsy and fall asleep within 3-5 minutes of drinking it; anesthesia progresses to coma, followed by respiratory arrest and death, which occurs within 30┬?40 minutes of ingesting the pentobarbital. However, in an exception, in 2008, the organisation used helium gas as a suicide method instead of a pentobarbital overdose. The medical supervision was still observed, however, and the method avoided controlled drugs, which reduced the risk of medical authorities disciplining the medical doctor who authorised the accompanied suicide. Foreign nationals are required to obtain a Schengen visa in order to enter any European country in the Schengen Zone. But the respondent man, in the plea, managed to get a Schengen visa which provides free and unrestricted journey within the 26 European countries, including Belgium and Switzerland by providing false information. He obtained a Schengen visa under the pretext of a namesake treatment in a clinic in Belgium, the plea said. The disease of the Noida man is a poorly understood condition and it is in the early stages of research. The most common symptom is extreme tiredness. ME/CFS can affect anyone, including children. Studies say it is more common in women and tends to develop in the mid-40s. It's also common for people who have chronic fatigue syndrome to also have other health problems at the same time, such as sleep disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression, or anxiety. These being the nature of the disease, treatment focuses on symptom relief, as per the plea. In the earlier stage, the man was going through a treatment called Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) in AIIMS, which was promising and giving significant improvement. FMT is considered to be a safe, promising and effective treatment method for CFS related problems as the results show high success rate. However, he could not continue it in the pandemic situation due to donor availability issues and this affects his confidence and hope. It is pertinent to mention that there are no financial constraints for providing the man with better treatments within India or abroad. In this context, the petitioner was seeking the court's directions not to grant emigration clearance to Respondent No.3 (man) as he made false claims before Indian as well as foreign authorities for getting travel permissions; and also direct to constitute a medical board to examine the medical condition of him and provide necessary medical assistance by considering his peculiar health condition. The court will hear the matter next week. (Jaison Wilson can be reached at /IANS


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