I am a good Christian, although final judgement rests with God. “Thou shalt not kill”, is the 7th commandment. I am all for it, hook, line and sinker. Nobody has any right over any body’s sacred life created by God. The sanctity of life should be preserved. Contrary to expectations. I support mercy killing. Although, unfortunately, mercy killing is still illegal in Nigeria. Are you shocked or surprised? I shall explain shortly.
My father died in November 2000. He was then living with me. He went into coma less than 24 hours before he died. Immediately he went into coma, I notified my elder brother a Professor of Marketing, who was then living in another town, he instructed me to make arrangements to move our father to a Teaching Hospital. I was then Abia State Government House Physician an Co-ordinator Abia State Free Medical Scheme with about 15 doctors under me. At my father’s bedside were 2 Professors of Medicine, 5 Consultants of various fields, who were fawning over him. We made arrangements for an anaesthesiologist, to intubate and administer oxygen during my father’s transportation to the Teaching Hospital. Before we could complete all these arrangements, my father died.
I knelt down and thanked God Almighty, for taking my father away, clean. Contrast that with my maternal uncle, which happened almost the same time. He was unconscious for almost 6 months, after a “repeat-stroke”. I pleaded with my Nephews and Nieces, to allow me take him to a Teaching Hospital. They refused, insisting that strokes were better treated with herbal medicines and by a Traditional Doctor. They refused to allow me pass even ordinary catheter for his urine, so the man was passing faeces and urinating on himself, the room was reeking of urine and faeces. It was impossible for anybody to spend more than 2 minutes in that room without being nauseated.
My maternal uncle was a macho-man, tall, handsome and very proud. He was reduced to a vegetable, and I wept each time I visited him. After 3 months, his last-born who was then in his final year in the University of Nigeria Nsukka, approached me secretly, and requested if there was anything I could give his father, so that he could die peacefully and preserve the little dignity the family still had. My hands were tied.
Let me tell you unequivocally, I do not pray that even my worst enemy, if I have any, should be turned to a vegetable and lose all human dignity.
This is just part A, of why I support euthanasia. Another is for a loved one to have a terminal illness associated with excruciating pains 24/7. That is all dignosis have shown that it is a desideratum that the person is going to die, the only question is just when, and the person is constantly crying, day-in-day-out, to be relieved of his or her pain, which the most potent analgesic-opium, can no longer relieve.
In the Bible we were told that one big-man, who died and went to hell-fire, was so scorched by the hell’s inferno, that he begged Peter to allow Larzrus dip his little finger in water and touch his scorched tongue. The suffering was till eternity.
Yes, I also believe that if we have faith, God could also heal, our comatose relatives. We are yet to witness such prophetic healings, which charlatans have now turned into a full time profession to dupe the gullible. Heads they win, tails we lose. Now let us difine mercy killing or euthanasia.
What is mercy killing or euthanasia?
Euthanasia is derived from 2 Greek words. “Eu”- good or well, and “thanatos” – death. It is the practice of intentionally ending a life, in order to relieve pain or suffering.
The British House of Lords-Select-Committee on Medical Ethics defined euthanasia – as a deliberate intervention, undertaken with the express intention of ending life, to relief intractable suffering.
In Netherlands and Flaudars – euthanasia is understood as – termination of life by a doctor at the request of a patient.
There are 3 types of euthanasia.
1) Voluntary euthanasia.
2) Non-voluntary euthanasia. And
3) Involuntary euthanasia.
1) Voluntary euthanasia; Here the patient gives his or her consent to be killed. This is legal in some countries like Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, Colombia, Belgium Luxembourg and some States in USA like California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.
2) Non-voluntary euthanasia; This is when the patient’s consent is unavailable because he or she is in coma. Here the next of kin or immediate family relatives might decide to give consent for the patient’s life to be terminated. This is illegal in all countries.
3) In-voluntary euthanasia; This is conducted against the will of the person, like lethal injection to a condemned criminal.
What is our take this week?
This is a clarion call to everyone. Since mercy killing or euthanasia is still illegal in Nigeria, we should all strive, to adequately look after, our elderly mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, and other elderly relatives, who might be suffering from, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases, kidney diseases, cancers or other terminal diseases. So that they do not become comatose and degenerate to vegetables. Where we would be praying to God earnestly to take away their lives. May God help us.
Dr Ojum Ekeoma Ogwo.