Belgian Paralympics wheelchair athlete, Marieke Vervoot, decided in 2008 to complete the paperwork and gather signatures for euthanasia.
Before the start of the competition in Brazil she told the Belgian press she was considering taking her life after Rio. Born in Diest in 1979, when Vervoot was 20 she was diagnosed with a degenerative muscle disease, which causes painful seizures, walking disruption and paralysis.
In spite of the disease, Vervoort was able to be a successful athlete. In fact, she won a gold and a silver medal in wheelchair racing in the 2012 London Olympics games, repeating herself Saturdays in Rio where she won a silver medal in the 400m race.
In a press conference held last Sunday, Vervoort confirmed that this was her last appearance in the Olympic games.
She said that she is enjoying every little moment she has, and admitted that she is still not ready to proceed with the euthanasia.
“When I didn’t have those papers, I would have committed suicide. I hope other countries like Brazil can talk about it. It makes people live longer. It doesn’t mean that when people sign the papers, they have to die two weeks later. I signed my papers in 2008. Look now, 2016 and I won the silver medal.”
Belgium, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands are the only countries that allow “assisted death” for subjects with chronic or terminal diseases. Patients need to receive a special allowance from three different doctors and a psychiatrist final visit which should assess the patient willingness and mental competence.