(Hartford, Conn. – March 5, 2014) Compassion & Choices praised Dr. Sherwin Nuland, the Yale surgery professor and author of an award-winning book, “How We Die,” for initiating a national dialogue about death with dignity. Nuland died from prostate cancer on Monday at age 83 at his home in Hamden, Connecticut.
“Dr. Nuland was heroic in bringing conversations about dying out of the closet. He openly acknowledged medically assisted dying exists in states like Connecticut where it is considered illegal. Our own fight is to legalize aid in dying and bring a surreptitious practice into the open, where it is safe and accessible to everyone,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, a former ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant who coauthored the nation’s first death-with-dignity law in Oregon.
“Like so many of my colleagues, I have more than once broken the law to ease a patient’s going, because my promise, spoken or implied, [to do everything possible to provide an easy death] could not be kept unless I did so,” Dr. Nuland wrote in “How We Die” (see pages 242-243)
“Dr. Nuland learned from his brother’s death from colon cancer that physicians who urge futile treatments on patients with incurable, terminal diseases often cause great suffering,” concluded Coombs Lee. “Ultimately, Dr. Nuland died as most doctors do, peacefully in his own home. He understood the end was near and opted to die gently in the loving arms of his family. And most Americans want to follow his example.”
With more than 30 local groups and 60,000 members and supporters throughout the United States, Compassion & Choices leads the end-of-life choice movement. We support, educate and advocate. Learn more at: www.compassionandchoices.org.