Colombia’s Health Minister on Wednesday called for doctors to continue with euthanasia procedures after a controversial last minute suspension of the country’s first ever procedure last week.
The statement gave additional guidelines surrounding the manner in which these euthanasia cases must be handled after doctors cancelled what would have been the country’s first ever procedure just 15 minutes before implementation.
Medical teams had planned give a “dignified death” to Ovidio Gonzalez, the father of renowned cartoonist Julio Cesar Gonzalez.
Gonzalez has suffered for five years from a rare cancer that decays his face, leaving him in constant “unbearable” pain. The patient has repeatedly asked for this procedure.
Hospital oncologist Juan Pablo Cardona suspended the procedure, claiming that his case did not meet the regulations laid out by the Ministry of Health in April. These guidelines specify that the patient must be approaching death in the short-term future, whilst Ovidio’s cancer is not cureable Cardona said that “at this time there is no way that the cancer can kill him.”
Ministry and the Superintendent of Health have urged that medical professionals and institutions continue with the procedures with “maximum care, prudence, humanitarian sense and providing timely communication, not to make the situation even more painful for the patient and family”.
The body cited in this case a “discrepancy” between the treating physician and a member of the committee which resulted in the late suspension of the procedure, expressing sympathy for Gonzalez and his family.
The National Health on Wednesday sent a delegate to the scene to investigate flaws in the proceedings.
Gonzalez has since the incident reiterated his desire for the procedure, in an interview on Tuesday with Blu Radio he said “I am so old and it gives me such pain and despair I do not know what to do. This is not dignity… I can not take more, I want no more torture.”
Gonzalez’ family will now continue their legal battle to allow the procedure by filing for a writ, demanding respect for the patient’s human rights.
Euthanasia in Colombia was decriminalized in 1997, however formal regulations and guidelines were only issued on April 20 of this year. These guidelines set by the Ministry of Health require that the patient suffers from a terminal disease expected to kill them in the near future and that a specialist of the disease is present at the procedure.
MinSalud insta a practicar procedimiento de muerte anticipada con alto sentido humanitario (Press Release: Ministry of Health)