Dr Sarah Van Laer, who has euthanased 28 patients since legalisation in 2002, has complained bitterly to the Belgian newspaper De Standaard about the burdens of her work.
"It’s too much for me. Lately I'm averaging one second opinion a week. Once a month, I am asked to perform the euthanasia itself… Recently I was called urgently for a patient who had been promised that euthanasia would take place that evening. But the doctor would not do it. When I came in I said I had come to see how things were. The family did not understand that -- ‘a promise is a promise’, they said.
"There are too few doctors ready to perform euthanasia. This problem is badly underestimated. Because of their reluctance many doctors pass this delicate matter off onto us. Meanwhile politicians are pressing for an extension of the legislation to minors. I wonder who will be willing to perform these euthanasias.”
She complains that doctors are getting burned out. “If a doctor does not want to perform euthanasia, he should get in touch with a palliative care team or an end-of-life doctor at a much earlier stage. Please do not get us there at the last minute. If I'm also supposed to perform a euthanasia, I want to be involved early. I am not a product on the supermarket shelf which you buy whenever you need it. I'm a person with my own needs and feelings."
Euthanasia can be a good way to end life, she insisted. “But I am not in favour of turbo-euthanasia,” she said regretfully. “I sometimes miss those moments of life before death, that good experience that dying can create."
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