Disabled French patient Vincent Lambert has died — just over one week after doctors removed his food and water over his parents’ objections.
On July 2, doctors removed the water and feeding tubes from the 42-year-old man after a lengthy court battle over his medical care. He then slowly died of starvation and dehydration.
His father, Pierre Lambert, 90, said what was being done to his son was nothing less than “murder in disguise, it’s euthanasia.” He and his wife said they were resigned to their son’s death, having exhausted all legal options to protect him.
He died at 8:25am on Thursday (local time).
Lambert’s nephew Francois told reporters: “Now I hope he can rest in peace. Vincent was in a vegetative state, he wouldn’t want to live that way. In respect for him, it was not right to keep him alive in these conditions.”
He provided no evidence to support the claim.
“We were ready to let him go,” he added, saying he had been notified about his uncle’s death by the doctor treating him.
“It is not sad. It is rationality gaining the upper hand. This was a human being who was suffering and the various theatrical gestures did not mean much,” he added.
Pope Francis, who had been supporting Lambert and his parents, tweeted out his remorse.
Every life has value, Pope Francis said Thursday after the death of Vincent Lambert,a French tetraplegic in a vegetative state who was taken off life support by judicial order earlier this week.
“May God the Father welcome into His arms Vincent Lambert,” Francis tweeted. “Let’s not build a civilization which eliminates persons whose life we think is no longer worthy of being lived: every life has value, always”.
The Lamberts had asked for continued prayers for their son in his final days.
“Dear friends who have supported us so much throughout these 6 years, this time, it’s over,” they said in a statement on Facebook. “Vincent’s death is now inevitable.”
“There is nothing more to do if not pray and accompany our dear Vincent, in dignity and contemplation,” they continued.
His parents and two of his siblings fought a long legal battle against Vincent’s wife, several other siblings and doctors who believe it is time for him to die. Vincent has been in the hospital since 2008, when he became quadriplegic and suffered severe brain damage from a vehicle accident.
Doctors said Vincent, a former nurse, can breathe on his own, sleep, wake up and respond to external stimuli.
On June 28, the French high court ruled in favor of the doctors removing his life support, according to the report.
Christophe Foltzenlogel, a legal expert with the European Center for Law and Justice, said Vincent was not dying and may have improved with specialized care.
In a collective opinion page on April 18, 70 “doctors and professionals specialized in the care of persons with cerebral palsy in a vegetative or pauci-relational state” said about Vincent Lambert that “it is obvious that he is not at the end of life”. The average length of stay in a palliative care unit in France is 16 days. Vincent has been living in a palliative care unit for 10 years. This does shows that he is not at the end of his life.
He said Vincent’s parents asked to care for him in their home or be transferred to a facility that specializes in his specific needs. However, both requests were refused.
The case has drawn the attention of international human rights advocates. Many see similarities to the fight over the life of Terri Schiavo, an American woman who died by slowly being starved to death after her life support was removed based on her husband’s wishes. Schiavo’s family also lost a long legal battle to provide medical care to their daughter.