28-year-old from ME shares last post before euthanasia
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28-year-old from ME shares last post before euthanasia

Update: Lauren’s parents posted an update on Lauren’s blog confirming her death. They wrote: “Lauren passed away peacefully at 1:55pm in the presence of her parents Leonie and Peter and best friend Lau. We would like to thank you for your sympathy and support. Leonie, Peter and Lau.”

A young Dutch woman suffering from metastatic encephalopathy (ME) has posted an emotional tweet announcing that she will be euthanized on Saturday, January 27.

Lauren Hoeve, 28, began documenting her euthanasia request in 2022 on her blog. She was diagnosed with ME in 2019 and also has autism, anxiety and ADHD. ME is often referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome, but Hoeve prefers not to use that term because she feels it doesn’t encompass the extent of her exhaustion.

Assisted dying has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002. According to campaign group Dignity in Dying, there are an average of around 3,500 cases of assisted dying or voluntary euthanasia per year in the country.

On her blog, Hoeve says that when she first told her GP that she wanted to undergo voluntary euthanasia, he told her that he respected her wishes but could not do it himself because her case was complicated by her psychological problems.

She was put on a waiting list to see a euthanasia specialist, but the wait was longer than usual due to the pandemic. Since then, Hoeve has seen several doctors who have examined her and in April 2023, they determined she was “mentally fit,” allowing her to sign off on her wish for euthanasia.

28-year-old from ME shares last post before euthanasia28-year-old from ME shares last post before euthanasia

Lauren Hoeve thanked everyone who supported her. (Source: Lauren Hoeve / Twitter)

Hoeve has been posting about her health on X (formerly known as Twitter) and has gained a legion of fans who have begun sending her messages of support and encouragement, as well as cat-related content, as Hoeve describes herself as a “cat sitter who doesn’t stay at home.”

On Wednesday, Hoeve posted on her blog thanking people for their support and announcing that her euthanasia would take place on Saturday between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. She wrote: “It doesn’t matter whether we’ve known each other long and well or just a little bit. Thanks to all of you, I feel less alone and I’m very grateful for that.”

She added: “Please don’t wish me a good trip, I’d rather go on a trip (a beach vacation would be nice)…”

She asked anyone wishing to pay tribute to her online to wait until after her death.

Hoeve’s mother, who also lost a son, also wrote a blog post about the planned euthanasia, saying: “What does it feel like for me as a mother to now lose my second child? It’s very sad and surreal. My mother’s heart is bleeding… Please know that we have done everything realistically possible to find a way out. She still wanted so much out of life, but she doesn’t want to live 30 years, let alone 60 or 80.”

She added: “The only bright spot I see is that I no longer have to fear losing my children. I know where they are.”

Myalgic encephalomyelitis is a serious, long-term condition with a wide range of symptoms. It is more common in women and usually develops between the ages of mid-20s and mid-40s. According to the NHS, the severity of symptoms can vary from day to day, or even within a single day.

By documenting her experiences, Hoeve encouraged her followers to support organizations involved in clinical trials and efforts to find a cure for the disease.

In November, a local Dutch ambulance charity booked an entire cinema so Hoeve, a huge Taylor Swift fan, could watch her idol perform with family and friends.

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Euthanasia in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, anyone can apply for euthanasia, but several assessment steps are necessary, especially if there are extenuating circumstances beyond the person’s physical condition.

In 2022, 8,720 cases of euthanasia were recorded in the Netherlands, the highest number to date. Most cases involved people with cancer, while the number of cases cited for dementia increased.

Five people under 30 were also euthanized, prompting criticism from some doctors. Dutch professor Irene Tuffrey-Wijne told the AP: “I have no doubt that these people suffered, but does society really accept sending this message that there is no other way to help them and that it is better to be dead?”

Last year, the Dutch government lowered the age of assisted dying to children aged one. However, for a child to qualify, they must meet strict criteria, most notably being terminally ill to the point that palliative care will not provide any relief.

This comes after the high-profile case of four-year-old Luuk, who died two years after being diagnosed with Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system.

Assisted Dying in the UK

Dame Esther Rantzen, journalist and television presenter, attends the memorial service for Dame Vera Lynn at Westminster Abbey, 21 March 2022.Dame Esther Rantzen, journalist and television presenter, attends the memorial service for Dame Vera Lynn at Westminster Abbey, 21 March 2022.

Dame Esther Rantzen said she may “not live long enough” to witness a debate on assisted suicide in Parliament again. (PA)

It is illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. There is no specific offence in Scotland. In 2015, a bill to legalise assisted suicide in the UK was rejected.

But it remains a source of debate, most recently led by presenter Dame Esther Rantzen, who revealed last month that she would consider assisted dying if treatment for lung cancer failed to improve her condition.

The 83-year-old founder and presenter of Childline has joined Dignitas, an assisted dying clinic in Switzerland. Her family could face criminal charges if they go with her.

In an interview with the BBC’s The Today Podcast in December, she called for a free vote on euthanasia in Parliament because she believes it is “important that the law keeps up with what the country wants”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has backed calls to change the law, saying last month: “I personally believe there is a basis for changing it.” The Health and Social Care Select Committee is due to publish its report on assisted dying and assisted suicide in England and Wales, after an inquiry is set to begin in December 2022 to explore different perspectives on the debate.

If you are concerned about the issues raised in this article, you can contact us Samaritans For confidential emotional support at any time, call 116 123 or email [email protected].