Deaf Belgian twins granted wish to die

2013-01-14 22:29

Brussels - Identical Belgian twin brothers, born deaf, becoming blind and unable to bear not being able to see and hear each other, had their wish to die granted in a case testing the boundaries of legal euthanasia.

Doctors gave the 45-year-old twins lethal injections after they had had a cup of coffee together and said goodbye to each other, a spokesperson at the UZ Brussel hospital said on Monday.

"It's not simply that they were deaf and blind that they were granted the right to euthanasia. It is that they could no longer bear being unable to hear or see the other," he said.

Belgium is one of few countries where euthanasia is legal.

A patient must be an adult, capable of making a judgment, and the wish to die must be voluntary, overwhelming and repeated. The patient must also be suffering persistent and unbearable mental or physical pain beyond medical help.

In addition, the condition must be serious and incurable, and have been brought on by illness or injury.

"Unbearable suffering can be mental as well as physical," the hospital spokesperson said. "The brothers were inseparable. They lived together and had the same job."

He said the brothers died on 14 December and that their family supported their wishes.

Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002 and the number of cases has risen every year since.

In 2011, 1 133 were granted the right to die, of which 86% were at least 60 years old and 72% suffering from cancer.

The Netherlands and Luxembourg have both decriminalised euthanasia.

Switzerland allows assisted suicide if the person concerned takes an active role.

  • delish7564 - 2013-01-14 22:48

    Very sad, but if that's what they genuinely wanted, it's not for us to pass judgement. None of us know how we would react in similar circumstances. R.I.P.

  • lskosana3 - 2013-01-14 22:59

    Oh man this is too sad, I can't even begin to imagine the mental suffering, anger, and frustration these men lived through their entire lives. I really hope they are at peace and together wherever they are :(

  • tshwaye - 2013-01-14 23:04

    very sad!

  • truthbetold221 - 2013-01-14 23:11

    I appreciate the little that I have.

  • Allison Tray Peterson - 2013-01-14 23:22

    ohh, dats so sad, but frm the other hand its a great thing than letting them suffer n look lyk a fool, but its so touching hey

  • diran.pillay - 2013-01-14 23:41

    When brothers love and support each other there's nothing more powerful... I hope they are resting in peace together. A touching article R.I.P

  • PrettyUsefulArt - 2013-01-15 02:30

    I'm happy for them that they were able to go this route. Together. I have heard that Dignity SA (, started by Prof. Sean Davison, is going all out this year to work towards getting our laws changed.

  • mpho.pink1 - 2013-01-15 02:32

    OMW! One can never imagine the sense of loss they both must have felt when they started to go blind, not only that they wouldn't be able to see and hear each other but the isolation they would feel from not knowing what goes on around them at all times. It must have be a painful painful life to live so I won't judge these two dear souls, making the decision to be put to death must not have been easy but we should all try to understand why they came to their conclusion. On the other hand, it doesn't make it right for anyone to legalize this type of law.

  • boris.friedman.3 - 2013-01-15 04:10

    one should be able to control ones own body and it is a blessing to be released from suffering...rather spend that money where there is medical help needed for the young

  • Erna.Boswell - 2013-01-15 05:57

    If you are not the Creator of Life and you take away LIFE, you are a MURDERER.

      mzwandile.dlamanzi - 2013-01-15 06:39

      Being a Doctor and being a Lawyer combined with perfoming their duties is never a sin infront of God. Paul in the bible mentions specifically those gifts in his book...its such that these gifts are sensitive than other careers. But God is obviously aware about that and shall be the only one to judge.

      peasant.mcpoor - 2013-01-15 07:01

      Erna, I really hope you havnt swatted a mosquito or eaten a burger or calamari, or pulled weeds from the garden.You didn't create them, so by your logic,you are a murderer?

      reynardt - 2013-01-15 07:37

      Mcpoor, if you want to get technical, and I quote: "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, < Hebrew; Syriac all the wild animals > and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Not man, but other life forms. So my weeds must die! But man must live! Waha! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

      WarrenStylin - 2013-01-15 09:30

      Luckily we are no all forced to believe that anymore. WOW I feel so free. I can decide whether I die without the fear of burning in hell.

      diana.gill.18 - 2013-01-15 09:38

      Erna let the doctors be murderers and take this "sin" upon themselves so the ones who have chosen to leave with dignity can save their souls and rest in peace... All religious BSters especially the ones who had never had a close person committing suicide because of unbearable pain irritate the worst out of me!

      eagle.age.3 - 2013-01-15 13:02

      You are right. No one has a right to take life including one's own. Only God has. No matter what happens. We came through our parents by the will of God

      chris.stuart.332 - 2013-01-15 14:12

      Erna, who is the creator of life, your god, a muslim god, a old greek god, who? I'm glad that in day and age, there's countries who allows this to happen. If Im sick, I for one do not wish to be kept alive by machines. If I choose to die, its my choice and nobody's god(s) are going to stop me.

  • dawn.kilian - 2013-01-15 06:16

    It's sad ! I am hard of hearing myself , if I became totally deaf and blind ! I would also prefer to die ! As there is nothing left ! As u can't hear or see !!!

  • bone.marrow.501 - 2013-01-15 06:37

    You kill yourself,you going straight to hell,no doubt.

      peasant.mcpoor - 2013-01-15 06:54

      @Brain.narrow- they were in hell to begin with (a real hell).so how can they GO to hell???

      bone.marrow.501 - 2013-01-15 07:02

      Thing is you need to understand God and the way He do things,there's a reason y they were made blind and deaf and they decide to take matters of the Creator in their own hands,God is the only one who give Life and the only one who give Death to His creation.

      henri.lombard - 2013-01-15 07:46

      some old hogwash - U may not question his reason???? then why does some people have heaven on earth and the majority of mankind is in suffering, your loving God, is one sick puppy if that is how he plans your so long awaited heavenly tests.

      peasant.mcpoor - 2013-01-15 07:46

      So you telling me god put them in hell before sending them to hell- for a reason.sounds like a pretty hellish deal to me.I'm struggling to differentiate who is the god and who is the devil

      zane.blignaut - 2013-01-15 09:21

      Once again, people who dont understand things, comment and bring in their religious views, and make other religious people look bad (somewhere in the bible or Koran or even the Torah im not sure) G-d said Judge not or Ye be Judged! No one on this planned may judge the decisions of these brothers as only G-d can judge their actions, all I can say is if I were in their shoes I may have done it differently, but that my view and not theirs... May their decision bring peace to their souls

      WarrenStylin - 2013-01-15 09:31

      I don't believe in hell. SO, I don't have anything to worry about.

  • bennjerengo - 2013-01-15 06:38

    Hot tears and sadness. But even if it was me, I had little left. RIP

  • danny.lutumba - 2013-01-15 06:47

    Very sad indeed but I just don't agree with euthanasia

      hayley.fredericks.9 - 2013-01-15 08:07

      So if you were given the choice to continue suffering indescribable pain for the rest of your living days or to be given the choice to end your suffering humanely, you would choose to suffer?

      zane.blignaut - 2013-01-15 09:25

      Hayley, I think that's exactly what Danny would choose for himself, as it is his life , its his choice, if you want to do it differently, well then that's your choice... that's kind of how this all works, you are only responsible for yourself, and no one else

      SharksterII - 2013-01-15 15:58

      hayley, they didn't have pain...

      cathy.dejongh.5 - 2013-02-14 17:06

      Sharksterll - Mental anguish is pain.

  • jabulani.matiza.7 - 2013-01-15 06:56

    its a tourching story hey!. may their souls rest in Peace

      cathy.dejongh.5 - 2013-02-14 17:09

      Just interested in those who thumbed Jabulani's comment down, what would you prefer happen to their souls then? Hell and more suffering? Thought so.

  • paula.leroux1 - 2013-01-15 07:24


  • Swapie - 2013-01-15 08:01

    May they rest on peace.

  • nettie.potgieter.5 - 2013-01-15 08:13

    All off you condeming this people who's wish it is to die remember God gave them the wisdom to decide and if they chose death, God will take them with open arms. They are in heavan but you must stil get there and the road you follow with your condenmation is very, very narrow!

      jack.schnitzer.1 - 2013-01-15 09:05

      Read your bible, there's no place in heaven for people who take their own lives. The just shall live by faith.

  • gerda.vanrooyen.39 - 2013-01-15 08:18

    What a sad story. May their souls R.I.P.

  • benjamin.pedro1 - 2013-01-15 08:19

    Something is very wrong here. If they couldn't here or see each other then someone tell me how they where able to come to a decision like this at the same time?

      WarrenStylin - 2013-01-15 09:34

      They could read braille and they had a braille type writer?

      WarrenStylin - 2013-01-15 09:34

      They could feel each others hands doing sign language.

      WarrenStylin - 2013-01-15 09:35

      They could have made a decision before they were blind.

      stuart.steedman - 2013-01-15 15:45

      Clearly, Benjamin, you've never heard of Helen Keller, who wrote books whilst being mute, blind and deaf. They would have been able to communicate their wishes.

  • abner.mophethe - 2013-01-15 08:45

    fair enough for me

  • diana.gill.18 - 2013-01-15 09:32

    Euthanasia must be legalized as well as death penalty. We humans are so hell scared of responsibilities that we would prefer the innocent to suffer and convicted murderers to be lodged and fed for life than to perform justice in its plain meaning and to be in charge of things.

  • khabir.hoosen - 2013-01-15 10:01

    People should only talk if they we re blind and deaf! Nothing wrong here!!!!

  • ndyeboreginaldmazawule - 2013-01-15 10:10

    Belgium is one of few countries where euthanasia is legal. Yoh

      PrettyUsefulArt - 2013-01-15 10:23

      Netherlands, Luxemborg, Switzerland and Oregon and a few other states in the US. There are 48 registered Right To Die organisations in the world, all gathering momentum.

  • markallenrsa - 2013-01-15 11:42

    This is murder, plain and simple. If they want to die so badly, let them commit suicide, don't do it for them.

      stuart.steedman - 2013-01-15 15:47

      And if you were stuck in a wheelchair, screaming in agony and unable to move, how would you plan to commit suicide then? Or are you saying only the able-bodied have the right to choose their own end, so that you discriminate against the immobile? And how do you suggest they should commit suicide? Jump? Shoot themselves? Either way they leave behind traumatized relatives who have to clean up afterwards, is that fair?

  • brandamanda - 2013-01-15 11:58

    This is a irreversible decision. At times, after a big shock, it takes time to realize it's not the end of the world. I believe this was perhaps not a very good outcome for these two people.

      stuart.steedman - 2013-01-15 15:47

      ...says the person who has no idea what they were feeling or what their thought processes were.

  • jonas.mbedzi - 2013-01-15 14:19


  • derek.smith.12177276 - 2013-01-15 16:56

    murder I said!

  • NicolaDCarstens - 2013-01-15 18:49

    You can quote your bible as much as you'd like, but at the end of the day, it's just a book written by MAN. Mother Nature knows best. In the animal kingdom, the weak and sick get left behind. It's because we, as the "superior" species, decided to that we know better, that the population has exploded into the billions the way it has. This Earth was not meant to house the number of people that she does. She is being exploited and ruined, all for the greed of humanity. At the end of the day, the reason that people are being kept alive long after they should be, on machines, artificially, is because of our own greed - we don't want to lose them. We don't want to be left behind. Don't get me wrong. Death is sad. I have lost someone very close to me, and it is difficult. But it should be up to the individual to make those decisions for themselves. Who are we to decide for them? Often, if you actually spoke to these people, you'd find that a big part of their decision was that they didn't want to be a burden to those that they love. Does this not count? Kuddos to them for being brave, for making their own decisions, regardless of the amount of contemptuousness they know they will get.

  • mc3raven - 2013-01-15 20:16

    Let me try understand everyone's comments on religion and moral ethics. And give my 2c to the debate. I consider myself a Christian and I know my bible and religion (I don't care what people comment here on this point, so don't bother with pity comments on this), how come when a prophet chooses to allow death by their hand or someone else's, they are a martyr or hero but if you choose death yourself (and believe without doubt), then you go straight to hell? Another view is if someone is seriously sick (to the point they would die without help) and they are kept alive (in pain or not) by medicine, a machine or other means, everyone would say that they should be kept alive because GOD allowed man to create the method of keeping them alive... I.e. now that it is a positive outcome on the side of life - everyone is happy (even though that person would die if not treated). However when you look at the same example but from the other side (consensual euthanasia by the person who will die - who GOD gave free choice too) then it is unacceptable. If GOD allowed man to create healing agents and then allowed him to make lethal injection), why can one be used but not the other. Personally I would not choose death until I felt that there was no more to be gained from life, and I don't believe that if I eventually chose death that GOD would turn his back on me, if I did not turn my back on him.

  • jessicajinx90 - 2013-01-16 02:02

    @Shark I really don't think you're thinking about this. "Holding her hand or being in her presence would be enough". So how would you eat, walk around the streets, communicate with each other, keep yourselves occupied, look after yourselves? That is no way of life. May these two brothers RIP. What a sad story.

  • teresa.t.johnson.16 - 2013-01-16 14:53

    I think its a good thing. When animals are in a lot of pain or extremely ill they get put down why not do the same for humans instead of watching them deteriorate and become mear shadows of themselves have a nice quiet place where anyone can walk in sit down and if they so choose have a needle inserted into there arm or neck and attached must be a button that only they can push if they want to leave this earth it should be freedom of choice after all it is our life that will end it is not harming anyone and why make people suffer when clearly they want to die and they have to beg for the pain to go away we would never see an animal suffer that much so why is it that we will watch our loved ones suffer.

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