Take Action
Plan Your Care
LEARN
Who We Are
News
C&C Magazine
Volunteer
Donate

Tag Archive: Aid in Dying

  1. Sign our thank you card for Miguel Carrasquillo

    Leave a Comment

    Our supporters received this message today from Patricia A. González-Portillo, Compassion & Choices’ national Latino communications manager:

    I want to tell you the story of Miguel Carrasquillo, an amazing young man from Puerto Rico. In the face of terminal illness, he spent his final days fighting for the rights of other dying individuals. Sadly, Miguel died earlier this month without the rights he fought so hard for.

    Miguel was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor in 2012, when he was only 30 years old. He fought the cancer for years, undergoing painful procedures to try and find a cure. Tragically, the tumor continued its growth, and after receiving a terminal prognosis from his doctors, Miguel left his home in Chicago to return to his native Puerto Rico and spend his remaining time with his family.

    Since medical aid in dying is not authorized in Illinois or in Puerto Rico, he was forced to endure unrelenting pain from headaches and seizures during his last days. This is why Miguel became a vocal advocate for expanding end-of-life options and urged lawmakers in every U.S. state and territory to support medical aid-in-dying legislation.

    Please sign your name to thank Miguel and his family for all they have done to support authorization of medical aid in dying across the country.

    I had the honor of knowing Miguel and his family, and I saw firsthand the excruciating pain he suffered throughout his final weeks. I saw the anguish on his mother’s face as she watched her only son suffer. And I saw Miguel’s commitment to help expand options for all, despite his own severe pain.

    Miguel accomplished so much at the end of his life by challenging taboos surrounding death — and by extension, medical aid in dying — that persist within the Latino culture. He urged his community, and the entire nation, to speak openly to their doctors about the kind of care they want at the end of life.

    Miguel’s friends and family are eager to continue his legacy and push for medical aid in dying nationwide. His mother said this: “I promised my son that I would not stay quiet about the need for the option of medical aid in dying. I don’t want anyone to suffer needlessly, as Miguel and our family had to.”

    Please click the link below to add your name to our card for Miguel’s family:

    https://www.compassionandchoices.org/sign-a-thank-you-card-for-miguels-family/

    Thanks for all you do,

    Patricia

    Patricia A. González-Portillo
    National Latino Communications Manager

  2. Doctors for Diginity: AMA to study medical aid in dying

    Leave a Comment

    The following email was sent to members of our Doctors for Dignity program. Click here to join Doctors for Dignity:

    Big news: this week, the American Medical Association House of Delegates supported a resolution to “study aid in dying as end-of-life option.”

    After 30 years of opposition to “euthanasia and assisted suicide,” the AMA’s Council on Judicial and Ethical Affairs will respond to the request to consider (1) data collected from the states that currently authorize aid in dying and (2) input from physicians who have provided medical aid in dying to qualified patients. A report with recommendations regarding a possible neutral stance on aid in dying will be presented to the 2017 House of Delegates.

    If you belong to the AMA, send a quick thank you note to your state or specialty society delegate. Find your delegate by clicking here.

    If you don’t belong to the AMA, read about membership benefits here. This may be a great time to join.

    A neutral position from the AMA would remove the number one barrier to passing aid-in-dying legislation, and would allow state medical societies to take their own positions on the practice.

    I’ll be sure to keep all Doctors for Dignity updated about the AMA’s actions and the status of the resolution.

    Talk to you soon,

    Rebecca

    Rebecca Thoman, M.D.
    Campaign Manager, Doctors for Dignity

  3. NY: Join our statewide campaign call

    Leave a Comment

    The following email was sent to our New York supporters on Friday, June 17:

    Friend,

    Today marks the end of New York’s 2016 legislative session.

    As you know, this year we brought lawmakers to the table to negotiate the Medical Aid in Dying Act. Thanks to more than 1300 supporters like you who contacted your legislators, the New York Assembly Health Committee passed the Medical Aid in Dying Act, our biggest victory in the state yet.

    This afternoon, we expect lawmakers to head back home to their districts. Many important bills, including the Medical Aid in Dying Act, will not see a vote by the legislature this year.

    This is far from the end of our fight; we’re just hitting our stride. I will host a call on June 29 to fill you in on our plans for the summer and our strategy to come back even stronger next session. I’ll be joined by Senator Diane Savino and Assemblymember Amy Paullin, the sponsors of the Medical Aid in Dying Act, who will give an update on their legislative efforts and strategy for next session.

    WHAT: Compassion & Choices New York Statewide Campaign Telephone Town Hall
    WHEN: Wednesday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m.
    WHERE: Call-in number: 310-372-7549, access code 401746

    Click here to RSVP for the call.

    Even though we’ve come further than ever before, we still have so much work ahead of us before we can count on support from the majority of lawmakers. That’s why we’re pushing ahead with an aggressive strategy for the summer.

    On the call, I’ll talk about our top priorities for the summer, including strengthening our action teams, speaking to legislative candidates about supporting aid-in-dying legislation, visiting lawmakers at their district offices, and recruiting your family’s doctors to join our efforts.

    We owe our success this year to supporters like you. If you haven’t taken action yet, now is the perfect time to get involved and learn how you can make a difference. Click here to RSVP for our call.

    Looking forward to talking to you soon,

    Corinne

    Corinne Carey
    NY Campaign Director

  4. My Dying Wish for Other Dying Adults

    Leave a Comment

    This piece was originally published in El Diario.

    By the time you read this piece, I will be dead.

    But unlike Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer who inspired the passage of California’s new End of Life Option Act, I am unlikely to die peacefully from my brain tumor as she did after moving with her family to Oregon to utilize its death-with-dignity law.

    I did not live in a U.S. state or territory that gives terminally ill adults like me the option to get a prescription for aid-in-dying medication I could decide to take to die peacefully, as Brittany did, to end unbearable suffering.

    As a result, I lived my last days with every horror that Brittany feared most: mind-splitting headaches, blackouts, blindness, convulsions and electric shocks from the incurable brain tumor that spread to my liver, stomach, testicles and other vital organs.

    I didn’t want the tumor to dictate how I would die. I wanted to die the way I lived, with purpose and intention. I wanted to die gently and avoid the terrifyingly painful death that doctors said I would experience.

    My life didn’t have to end this way. I did not commit a crime to live in a prison with a sentence of intolerable suffering.

    Unfortunately, medical aid in dying is not an authorized option in my native Puerto Rico, where my Catholic parents cared for me during the last days of my life.

    Cancer

    I was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a deadly form of brain cancer, in 2012. I endured invasive, agonizing procedures to unsuccessfully try to cure the cancer. And the morphine connected to my sciatic nerve did little to alleviate my pain.

    Brittany Maynard

    For over a year, I watched Brittany Maynard’s videos. I researched moving to one of the states that authorize medical aid in dying — Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont or California, where the End of Life Option law took effect on June 9.

    But my family didn’t have the resources Brittany did to move 2,000 miles or more to one of these five states. I had to live and die with this horrible pain.

    Latinos

    It is clear we have an issue in our country, where it is not affordable or practical for the vast majority of terminally ill people to move to another state far away from their home, establish residency and find a medical team in order to die peacefully.

    We shouldn’t have to die with unbearable pain. We shouldn’t have to suffer.

    So we must take action. We must email our legislators and urge them to support broader end-of-life options.

    We must urge our doctors to support their patients’ last wishes, whether they agree with them or not.

    And we Latinos must drop our cultural taboo around discussing death and the option of medical aid in dying.

    God

    I had numerous conversations with God throughout my life, especially during my illness. I could not understand why people judged me as a sinner for wanting to die peacefully rather than enduring severe seizures and excruciating pain until the end of my life.

    As a Catholic, I was taught it is wrong for anyone to judge someone else. Until you’ve walked a mile in another person’s shoes, you should not stand in the way of them having this option.

    “Latino Brittany Maynard”

    I was proud to learn I was Compassion & Choices first terminally ill Latino advocate for medical aid in dying when I recorded videos in English and in Spanish to urge legislators in U.S. states and territories, including Illinois and my native Puerto Rico, to pass medical aid-in-dying bills.

    Between agonizing headaches, electric shocks and convulsions, I gave TV and print interviews, and wrote op-eds published by numerous media outlets demanding the option of medical aid in dying.

    I gave my last interview to Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, which aired May 29.

    I also recorded this cell phone video on May 25, just 10 days before my agonizing death (click here for Spanish version of video).

    Some media outlets referred to me as the “Latino Brittany Maynard.”

    Fighting for options

    I am no longer alive to tell my story.

    But my mama will not go silent. She will continue to be a loud, powerful voice so other terminally ill Latinos like myself hopefully don’t have to suffer as I did. We need to keep fighting and fighting until somebody listens to us.

    Miguel Carrasquillo was a 35-year-old chef who lived in New York City from 2004 to 2006. He wrote this op-ed two days before he died from cancer on June 5 and requested it be published posthumously.

    Click here to read a Spanish-language verison of this piece.

  5. AMA Praised for Action Leading to Study of Aid in Dying

    Leave a Comment

    Compassion & Choices praised the American Medical Association (AMA) for considering a resolution that will lead to a study of aid in dying as an option for terminally ill adults. The AMA House of Delegates voted on Monday to refer Resolution 015 – Study aid-in-dying as end-of-life option – to the AMA Board of Trustees in light of the continuing evolution of thinking in this area.

    In keeping with the decision to refer Resolution 015, it is anticipated that the AMA Board of Trustees will ask the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) to examine AMA ethical policy prohibiting physician participation in assisted suicide (Opinion E-2.211). In keeping with Council practice, CEJA will review relevant literature and data, and deliberate whether current AMA ethical policy should be reaffirmed or amended in a manner yet to be determined. CEJA will report the results of its deliberations to the House of Delegates at a future date.

    The expected study will be notable because the AMA has opposed physician-assisted suicide since 1993, and it follows the California Medical Association (CMA) dropping its 28-year opposition to medical aid in dying and adopting a neutral stance on the issue last year. The CMA position change facilitated the enactment of California’s End of Life Option Act that took effect last Thursday, tripling the percentage of terminally ill Americans who have the option to choose medical aid in dying from 4 to 16 percent.

    “We thank the AMA for responding to physician and public sentiment to reexamine its position on medical aid in dying,” said Barbara Coombs Lee, an attorney who was an ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant for 25 years before she coauthored the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. “National polls show the vast majority of American doctors and their patients support medical aid in dying because they want this option to avoid unbearable suffering at the end of life.”

    In addition to California, four other states authorize the option of medical aid in dying: Oregon (since 1997), Washington (since 2008), Montana (since 2009) and Vermont (since 2013).

    “Oregon’s experience with our Death with Dignity Act shows terminally ill adults benefit from the law regardless if they decide to utilize medical aid in dying or not,” said Dr. Glenn Gordon, a retired surgeon, former advisory board member of Compassion & Choices of Oregon and alternate delegate for the Oregon Medical Association, who initiated the resolution. “It has encouraged earlier conversations about end-of-life care, as well as better and more frequent use of hospice and palliative care. Hospice care has improved markedly in the past couple of decades and works cooperatively when patients request the option of medical aid in dying.”

    After open hearings on Resolution 015, a reference committee of the House of Delegates concluded:

    “Support for this resolution was largely in favor of the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs studying the issue of medical aid-in-dying. The testimony spoke to the fact that many states have proposed or adopted legislation to legalize the practice, introducing a potential conflict for our members in those states. Additional testimony recognized the need for our American Medical Association to respond to this highly relevant and expanding issue that may impact medical practice, looking to the Council for guidance. With these considerations in mind your Reference Committee recommends that Resolution 015 be referred.”

    The House of Delegates adopted by acclamation the reference committee’s recommendation to refer Resolution 15.

  6. Pride Month: Two Movements Deeply Unified

    Leave a Comment

    Every June, Pride Month, we strive to honor our allies in the LGBT community by reflecting on our long partnership and strong commitment to one another.

    The medical aid-in-dying movement and the LGBT rights movement are deeply intertwined, helping each other achieve monumental progress over the years. From the charge to pass the nation’s first death-with-dignity act in 1994 to allowing same-sex partners to act as healthcare proxies for one another, the two movements have decades of crossover.

    “Many of us who worked on helping people with AIDS to get the care they needed soon transitioned over to the end-of-life movement,” says Derianna Mooney, a retired Compassion & Choices Oregon client volunteer. “It was mutually beneficial to have allies within the LGBT community, activists handling our issue, fighting for the rights for people to die with dignity.”

    “During the AIDS crisis, our community developed a strong network of caring and supportive doctors with whom all subjects were on the table in order to survive. These open and forthright conversations saved countless lives. As members of the LGBT community age, continuing these open conversations on end-of-life matters is critical to having a peaceful death,” says Mark Dann, former Compassion & Choices LGBT outreach manager, now working as federal affairs director.

    “It’s no coincidence that the first successful law passed in Oregon right at the height of the AIDS crisis. We worked with families who were witnessing their loved ones suffer so greatly and who were desperate for expanded end-of-life options,” Dann continues. “Our movement wouldn’t be anywhere without the LGBT rights movement.”

    The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) supports medical aid-in-dying bills in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and has voiced support for California’s End of Life Option Act, which was enacted on June 9.

    We continue to work together with the LGBT community in support of autonomy and self determination, two of our Seven Principles for Person-Centered End-of-Life Care.

    Join us in celebrating Pride Month this June. Click here to learn more about how you can show your support for both movements by ordering a Pride in a Box Toolkit, or click below to download our 2016 Pride graphic to share on your own Facebook.

    Pride (8)

     

  7. La ley de California Opción al Final de la Vida entra en vigor mañana

    Leave a Comment

    La ley de California, Opción al Final de la Vida, entrará en efecto mañana, autorizando a un 12 por ciento de los adultos con enfermedades terminales a nivel nacional a tener la opción de solicitar la asistencia médica para morir si su sufrimiento se vuelve insoportable. Los otros estados que con anterioridad autorizaron la asistencia médica para morir son:  Oregon (1997), Washington (2008), Montana (2009) y Vermont (2013) – comprenden un 4 por ciento de la población nacional.

    “Mañana es un día monumental para los californianos que sufren de alguna enfermedad terminal. Muchos californianos con enfermedades terminales – como Jennifer Glass y Christy O’Donnell – pasaron sus últimos meses de vida abogando por esta opción, que finalmente es una realidad”, dijo Matt Whitaker, Director de California para Compassion & Choices.

    “En base a la experiencia con leyes similares en otros estados, menos de un 1 por ciento de los californianos con enfermedades terminales necesitará la asistencia médica para morir”, dijo Whitaker. “Pero el simple hecho de tener la opción les dará la tranquilidad mental que a menudo les da el cuidado paliativo. Esta ley está fomentando las conversaciones abiertas y honestas entre las familias californianas sobre las opciones en el cuidado al final de la vida, que anteriormente no se daban”.

    La implementación de la nueva ley es un gran alivio para Elizabeth Wallner, una madre soltera de Sacramento de 52 años, que vive con un cáncer terminal en el colon y que ya se ha sometido a seis cirugías para remover partes de su hígado y colon. Ella se ha sometido a tratamientos de radiación, ‘radio-ablation’ y otros tratamientos que le han dado la mínima esperanza de prolongar su vida.

    “Me tranquiliza saber que la ley Opción al Final de la Vida entra en vigor mañana, y que puedo preguntarle a mi cirujano por la receta del medicamento que puedo tomar cuando yo quiera si mi sufrimiento se vuelve insoportable, en el final de esta enfermedad mortal, y que me dejará morir mientras duerma”, dijo. “Pero solo porque voy a tener esta opción, no significa que voy a morir el 9 de junio. De hecho, seguiré viviendo mi vida al máximo y cuidando a mis padres de edad avanzada”.

    Matt Fairchild, un católico de 46 años, sargento retirado del ejército, residente en Burbank, que vive con un melanoma terminal que se ha extendido a los huesos, pulmones y cerebro, dijo que él y su esposa de 18 años, Ginger, sintieron un gran alivio cuando aprobaron la ley.

    “No sé si voy a tomar el medicamento que me ayude a morir cuando lo obtenga, o si dejaré que la naturaleza siga su curso, pero quiero la opción de ponerle fin a mi sufrimiento si llega a ser demasiado duro”, dijo Fairchild, quien toma 20 píldoras para tratar los síntomas de su cáncer y ha pasado por muchas cirugías para extender su vida. “Irónicamente, el tener el medicamento que me ayude a morir en mis manos, me permitirá enfocarme en vivir y no en morir”.

    Compassion & Choices recientemente lanzó una campaña bilingüe para educar a los californianos con enfermedades terminales, sus familias y proveedores de salud sobre los beneficios y requisitos de la ley del estado que ayuda a morir con asistencia médica.

    Los doctores, farmaceutas y residentes de California pueden tener acceso a la información de la ley Opción al Final de la Vida, llamando a la línea gratuita de Compassion & Choices al 1-800-893-4548, o visitando el sitio:www.EndOfLifeOption.org. Los médicos de California, también pueden hablar con doctores con años de experiencia en las opciones del cuidado al final de la vida, incluyendo la asistencia médica para morir, llamando a la línea confidencial de Compassion & Choices, Doc2Doc: 1-800-247-7421.

    “Una parte importante de la asistencia médica para morir es conservar la relación entre la persona con una enfermedad terminal y su médico”, dijo la doctora  Catherine S. Forest, MD MPH, directora del centro médico Stanford Health Care  en Los Altos, profesora clínica asistente de la escuela de medicina Stanford School of Medicine y doctora en medicina familiar por más de 20 años. “Le permite al médico el honor de escribir la receta para una condición y circunstancia única para ese paciente, tal como lo hacen al escribir una receta para cualquier y / o otro medicamento.”

    Dan Díaz, el viudo de Brittany Maynard, que vive en Alamo y abogó por la Ley de California Opción al Final de la Vida y que ahora está trabajando por una legislación similar en otros estados, compartió estar muy orgullo al recordar a su esposa.

    “La opción al final de la vida que apoyó Brittany ahora se convertirá en ley en nuestro estado natal de California el 9 de junio”, dijo. “Esto significa que todo individuo con una enfermedad terminal no tendrá que salir de su casa como lo hicimos nosotros y que esa persona podrá tener la opción de irse en paz, cuando sea necesario para ellos.”

    Como parte de la Campaña de Acceso California, Compassion & Choices se ha asociado con centros médicos, centros de cuidados paliativos, centros de salud comunitarios y organizaciones sin fines de lucro para asegurarse que los  californianos en todo el estado entienden que la ayuda médica para morir es una opción legítima y accesible dentro de los cuidados al final de su vida.

  8. California End of Life Option Act to Take Effect

    Leave a Comment

    The California End of Life Option Act takes effect June 9, authorizing 12 percent of terminally ill adults nationwide to have the option to request medical aid in dying if their suffering becomes intolerable. The other states that previously authorized medical aid in dying – Oregon (1997), Washington (2008), Montana (2009) and Vermont (2013) – comprise 4 percent of the nation’s population.

    “This is a monumental day for Californians suffering from terminal diseases. Many dying Californians – like Jennifer Glass and Christy O’Donnell – spent their final months advocating for this option that finally is a reality,” said Matt Whitaker, California State Director for Compassion & Choices.

    “Based on the experience with similar laws in other states, less than 1 percent of terminally ill Californians will need to utilize medical aid in dying,” said Whitaker. “But simply having the option gives them peace of mind that often has a palliative effect. This law is spurring open, honest conversations among California families about end-of-life care options that were not taking place before.”

    The new law’s implementation is a tremendous relief for Elizabeth Wallner, a 52-year old Sacramento single mom living with terminal colon cancer who endured 6 surgeries to remove parts of my liver and colon. She has undergone radiation, radio-ablation and other treatments that offer even the slightest hope of extending her life.

    “I am relieved to know the End of Life Option Act will take effect, and I can ask my surgeon for prescription medication that I can decide to ingest if my suffering becomes intolerable in the final stages of this deadly disease which will allow me to die peacefully in my sleep,” she said. “But just because I will have this option does not mean my life will end on June 9. In fact, I will continue to live life to the fullest and care for my aging parents.”

    Matt Fairchild, a Catholic, 46-year-old, retired Army staff sergeant from Burbank living with terminal melanoma that has spread to his bones, lungs and brain said he and his wife of 18 years, Ginger, felt a sense of relief.

    “I don’t know if I will take the aid-in-dying medication once I get it, or if nature will just take its course, but I want the option to end my suffering if it becomes too much to endure,” said Fairchild, who takes 20 pills a day to treat his cancer symptoms and has undergone numerous surgeries to extend his life. “Ironically, having the aid-in-dying medication in hand will enable me to focus on living, not on dying.”

    Compassion & Choices recently launched a statewide bilingual campaign to educate terminally ill Californians, families and medical providers about the benefits and requirements of the state’s medical aid-in-dying law. California doctors, pharmacists and residents can access information on the End of Life Option Act by calling Compassion & Choices’ free hotline, 1-800-893-4548, or by visiting: www.EndOfLifeOption.org. California physicians also can speak to doctors with years of experience in end-of-life care options, including medical aid in dying, by calling Compassion & Choices’ free, confidential Doc2Doc consultation program: 1-800-247-7421.

    “A central part of medical aid in dying is that it preserves the relationship between a terminally ill person and her or his doctor,” said Dr. Catherine S. Forest, MD MPH, medical director at the Stanford Health Care at Los Altos, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine and a practicing family physician for over 20 years. “It allows a doctor to honor each person’s unique condition and circumstance when writing the prescription, just as they do in writing a prescription for any and/or every other medication.”

    Dan Diaz, Brittany Maynard’s widower, who lives in Alamo and advocated for the California End of Life Option Act and now is advocating for similar legislation in other states, shared with a sense of pride as he recalled his late wife.

    “The end-of-life option that Brittany supported will now become law in our home state of California on June 9th,” he said. “This means a terminally ill individual will not have to leave home like we did and that individual can pursue this option of a gentle passing if it becomes necessary for them.”

    As part of the California Access Campaign, Compassion & Choices is partnering with medical centers, hospice facilities, community health centers and nonprofit organizations to ensure Californians statewide understand that medical aid in dying is a legitimate, accessible end-of-life care option.

  9. ‘El Brittany Maynard Latino’, murió sin conseguir la opción al final de la vida por la que abogó

    Leave a Comment

    Miguel Carrasquillo, a quien el sufrimiento de un doloroso cáncer cerebral lo impulsó a grabar un video bilingüe para Compassion & Choices e instar a los legisladores a nivel nacional a aprobar leyes que permitieran que las personas con enfermedades terminales tuvieran la opción de recibir asistencia médica para morir, murió en su natal Puerto Rico. Tenía 35 años.

    Siendo residente de Chicago, Miguel fue diagnosticado con un glioblastoma multiforme, un agresivo tumor cerebral en 2012. Sin embargo, a pesar de soportar con valentía tratamientos terriblemente dolorosos para tratar de curar su cáncer, éste se extendió por todo su cuerpo. En abril de 2015, los médicos estimaron que Miguel tenía alrededor de un año de vida. En los últimos meses, los médicos le dijeron a Miguel que el tumor estaba creciendo alrededor de una pulgada a la semana.

    El pasado mes de marzo, Miguel se convirtió en el primer defensor latino de la asistencia médica para morir en enfermos terminales de Compassion & Choices, al grabar un video en Inglés y Español para instar a los legisladores de todo Estados Unidos y sus territorios, incluyendo Illinois y su natal Puerto Rico, para que aprobaran leyes que permitieran la asistencia médica para morir.

    Miguel grabó este video en su celular el 25 de mayo, solo 10 días antes de su agonizante muerte (Haga click aqui para version en Inglés):

    “Antes de que me vaya, solo quiero decirles que continúen luchando por el legado de fin de vida, porque nosotros no tenemos nada; solo sufrimiento y dolor. ¿Porque, qué otra opción tenemos? [ aparte de los cuidados paliativos]. Si nosotros no luchamos por la opción de asistencia médica para morir para los adultos con enfermedades terminales, nadie más lo hará. Necesitamos seguir luchando, y luchando hasta que alguien nos escuche”.

    Antes de morir, Miguel habló con orgullo al referirse a sí mismo como el “Brittany Maynard latino’. Maynard también era joven, una mujer con un cáncer en el cerebro que abogó para que California aprobara la ley que permite la muerte asistida, después de que ella misma tuviera que mudarse a Oregon en 2014, a la edad de 29 años, para hacer uso de la ley Muerte con Dignidad. Gracias en gran parte a la unión de Compassion & Choices con Brittany Maynard y su esposo latino, Dan Diaz, California aprobó la ley que permite la muerte asistida que entrará en vigor el próximo 9 de junio.

    “Yo no tengo los recursos económicos que tuvo Brittany para moverme a un estado como California”, dijo Miguel. Tengo que vivir y morir con este dolor espantoso, con convulsiones y choques eléctricos”.

    La asistencia médica para morir permite a los adultos con enfermedades terminales solicitar a su doctor la receta de un medicamento que pueden tomar por sí mismos y morir pacíficamente mientras duermen, cuando su sufrimiento se vuelve insoportable. Desafortunadamente para Miguel, la asistencia para morir no fue una opción autorizada en Illinois o en su natal Puerto Rico, donde sus padres católicos cuidaron de él hasta sus ultimos días.

    “Es injusto que Miguel se viera obligado a sufrir innecesariamente al final de su vida”, dijo Barbara Coombs Lee, presidenta de Compassion & Choices, una abogada que co-escribió la ley Muerte con Dignidad de Oregon, después de haber trabajado como enfermera en departamentos de ER y ICU y como asistente de doctor por más de 25 años. “Estamos desconsolados por la pérdida de este valiente joven, que hizo mucho por las personas con enfermedades terminales, aun cuando se enfrentaba una muerte terriblemente dolorosa. Estamos eternamente agradecidos por los esfuerzos de Miguel de ampliar las opciones de fin de vida para los latinos y otros estadounidenses”.

    Entre dolores de cabeza agonizantes, choques eléctricos y convulsiones, Miguel hizo entrevistas que apoyaban la muerte asistida para People en Español, La Opinión, El Diario NY, Univision y Telemundo. El Huffington Post y el Chicago Tribune también publicaron artículos de opinión escritos por Miguel. Su última entrevista la hizo con Jorge Ramos, de Univisión, y fue transmitida el 29 de mayo.

    La madre de Miguel, Nilsa Centeno, se comprometió a continuar con el legado de su hijo y promover su último deseo.

    “Le prometí a mi hijo que no me iba a quedar callada sobre la necesidad de opciones que permitan la muerte asistida”, dijo. “No quiero que nadie más sufra innecesariamente como lo hizo Miguel y nuestra familia”.

    Dan Díaz, el viudo de Brittany Maynard, recordó las conversaciones con Miguel y su madre, Nilsa, sobre sus temores de morir con dolor y su deseo de mudarse a California, para acceder a la ley Opción al Final de la Vida.

    “Miguel soportó todos los horrores que más temía Brittany”, dijo Díaz. “Como Brittany, Miguel fue un verdadero campeón por la gama de opciones al final de la vida. Nadie debe ser obligado a pasar por un doloroso proceso de muerte como lo hizo Miguel”.

  10. “Latino Brittany Maynard” Dies Without End-of-Life Option He Fought For

    Leave a Comment

    Miguel Carrasquillo, whose horrific suffering from brain cancer prompted him to record a bilingual video for Compassion & Choices urging lawmakers nationwide to give terminally ill adults the option of medical aid in dying, died Sunday in his native Puerto Rico. He was 35.

    A Chicago resident, Miguel was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive, deadly brain tumor, in 2012. Despite bravely enduring excruciatingly painful treatments to try to cure his cancer, it spread throughout his body. In April 2015, doctors estimated Miguel had a year to live. In recent months, doctors told Miguel the tumor was growing about an inch a week.

    In March, Miguel became Compassion & Choices’ first terminally ill Latino advocate for medical aid in dying when he recorded videos in English and in Spanish to urge legislators in U.S. states and territories, including Illinois and his native Puerto Rico, to pass aid-in-dying bills.

    Miguel recorded this cell phone video on May 25, just 10 days before his agonizing death (click here for Spanish version of video):

    “And before I go on, I just want to tell you guys to keep fighting for the legacy of end of life because we don’t have nothing, just suffering and pain because what other options [do] we have? If we don’t fight for that [the option of medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults], nobody cares about it. We need to keep fighting and fighting until somebody listens to us.”

    Before he died, Miguel spoke with pride as he referred to himself as the “Latino Brittany Maynard.” Maynard also was a young terminally ill person with brain cancer, who worked to get aid-in-dying legislation passed in California after moving to Oregon in 2014 at age 29 to use its death-with-dignity law. Thanks in large part to Compassion & Choices’ partnership with Brittany Maynard and her Latino husband, Dan Diaz, California enacted aid-in-dying legislation that takes effect on June 9.

    “I don’t have the resources that Brittany had to move to a state like California,” he said. “I have to live and die with this horrible pain, seizures and electric shocks.”

    Medical aid in dying allows terminally ill adults to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to ingest to die peacefully if their end-of-life suffering becomes unbearable. Unfortunately for Miguel, aid in dying is not an authorized option in Illinois or in his native Puerto Rico, where his Catholic parents cared for him at the end of his life.

    “It is unjust that Miguel had to endure needless suffering at the end of his life,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, an attorney who coauthored Oregon’s death-with-dignity law after working as an ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant for 25 years. “We are heartbroken by the loss of this courageous young man who did so much for terminally ill people even as he endured horrific pain. We are eternally grateful for Miguel’s efforts to expand end-of-life options for Latinos and other Americans.”

    Between agonizing headaches, electric shocks and convulsions, Miguel did interviews advocating for medical aid in dying with People en Espanol,  La Opinión, El Diario NY, Univision and Telemundo. The Huffington Post and The Chicago Tribune also published op-eds authored by Miguel. He gave his last interview to Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, which aired May 29.

    Miguel’s mother, Nilsa Centeno, pledged to continue her son’s legacy by working to fulfill his last wish.

    “I promised my son that I would not stay quiet about the need for the option of medical aid in dying,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to suffer needlessly, as Miguel and our family had to.”

    Dan Diaz, Brittany Maynard’s widower, recalled speaking with Miguel and Nilsa about his fear of dying in pain and his desire to move to California to access the End of Life Option Act.

    “Miguel endured every horror that Brittany feared most,” Diaz said. “Like Brittany, Miguel was a true champion for the full range of end-of-life options. No one should be forced to endure a horrific dying process as Miguel did.”

    Miguel was born in Chicago, Illinois, on Nov. 18, 1980. He was a former chef in Chicago and New York. He is survived by his mother, Nilsa, and father, Miguel Carrasquillo Sr.; and two sisters, Aslin and Nilsa; two nieces and two nephews.