On February 28th, Chile’s president visited a hospital to meet with a 14-year-old girl who shocked the country after posting a YouTube video pleading for President Michelle Bachelet to let doctors kill her because she’s suffering with cystic fibrosis. According to the Daily Mail, the government quickly said no after the video began spreading on social media.
In the video, Valentina Maureira said, “I urgently request to speak to the president because I’m tired of living with this illness. I want her approval so I can get a shot that will make me sleep forever.” Tragically, the girl’s brother died when he was six-years-old from the same disease.
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The Mayo Clinic defines cystic fibrosis as a life-threatening disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs and digestive system. The condition is inherited and affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices; and in cystic fibrosis patients, a defective gene causes secretions to plug up tubes, ducts and passageways, especially in the lungs and pancreas.
Alvaro Elizalde, a presidential spokesman, expressed empathy for Valentina’s situation, but stressed that Chilean law does not allow euthanasia. He said, “It’s impossible not to be overcome by emotion with the girl’s request; it’s impossible to grant her wish.”
The Associated Press reported that in an interview the girl’s father, Fredy Maureira, he said he supported his daughter’s request; however, he ‘cried through the night’ after he first heard about her wish to die. He added, “This is so tough, but I have to respect her decision because she’s the one who’s suffering this illness.”
Elizalde said the health ministry was in contact with Maureira’s family and was providing her psychological assistance as well as medical treatment. In a statement issued by the hospital, Castillo said she had been transferred out of the critical pediatric patient unit. He said, “Right now our therapeutic efforts are aimed at the recovery of her nutritional state and supporting her family.”
Maureira said, “I already lost a 6-year-old son because I didn’t have enough money and organs. Now my daughter just wants to die in a dignified way. She’s exhausted, we’re all exhausted, but if she wants to keep fighting, I’ll be by her side every second. My message to all the parents in the world who have healthy kids is: Please take care of them. Love them.’
The disease is affecting Valentina’s liver, pancreas and lung, and she has said that she’s frustrated by the lack of options and how much it has affected her quality of life.