[LETTERS]Dying and living with dignity

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[LETTERS]Dying and living with dignity

Your article, “Death with dignity” [Editorial, Nov. 29], reminded me of my brother-in-law, who passed away four years ago. He fell into a coma after surgery for a cerebral hemorrhage, and had to lie in a vegetative state without any possibility of recovery.

However, the law didn’t permit the hospital to remove a respirator from my brother-in-law. The only thing my family could do was to watch him wither away day after day until he died, five months later.

The meaningless five months of treatment changed a farmer of sturdy build into a miserable, skeletal figure who was heavily burdened with debt. His wife suffered severely, financially and emotionally. He did not have the right to die with dignity.

I heartily welcome the news that the Seoul Western District Court approved a request to allow death with dignity (passive euthanasia) for the first time in the nation.

The problem is there are still many other families of patients suffering in similar circumstances.

Therefore, lawmakers need to pass a law about passive euthanasia as soon as possible to prevent pointless life-extending treatment and help patients end life with dignity.

Meanwhile, the mass media and social organizations need to hold public discussions openly and narrow the differences in opinion about passive euthanasia.

In addition, the authorities concerned should establish monitoring systems to prevent people misusing passive euthanasia.

The systems need to include specialists such as medical doctors or legal professionals for strict and efficient monitoring.

Most of all, our society should be concerned about the elderly and poor people and try to promote social welfare for them. Passive euthanasia must not deprive them of a chance for medical treatment.

Living with dignity is as important as dying with dignity.

Lee Hyun-ah, an elementary school teacher, Seoul
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