A 20-year-old man from Canada has been approved for assisted suicide (known as Medical Assistance in Dying, or MAiD), primarily because he has been unable to get a proper medical diagnosis or the right treatment for his gastrointestinal conditions.
Eric Coulam lives in British Columbia, a province that has some of the highest rates of MAiD deaths in the world. According to the National Post, he started experiencing stomach pains in 2013, shortly after his mother committed suicide. He has since experienced multiple hospital stays, liver and kidney disease, and severe chronic pain from his gastrointestinal issues, but the underlying condition has remained undiagnosed.
“I lost his mom,” his grandmother, Donna Suski, said. “And now I’ll be losing him.” Suski added that she believes the stress of losing his mother caused Coulam’s health to decline so quickly.
As Coulam told his story, it’s clear that he has sadly been unable to find doctors able to help him. In describing one doctor who tried to investigate his gastrointestinal issues with a scope, he says, “She got to a certain point and couldn’t go any further. She told me to drink the drink again and come back in a couple of days.” When he returned, he tells how the doctor couldn’t figure out the problem, so she just sent him on his way. “She said it weird that she couldn’t go through, and it’s never happened before, but you can tell it’s blocked and this and that. She then signed the paper, and then she never investigated,” he said. “They didn’t tell me to take laxatives or phone any GI (gastrointestinal) doctors.”
Coulam also said he got little help from emergency room doctors, who weren’t properly diagnosing or even researching his issues as he continued to get sicker. He also spoke with local doctors who said they were consulting with specialists in Vancouver, but when he eventually went to visit with those specialists himself, they told him they had never spoken to anyone from his region.
Coulam said that he started considering a MAiD death for himself after witnessing a fellow patient undergo the procedure. He has mentioned that he is choosing this death because he wants to be in control of the procedure. “I am way too much of a fighter to ever go on my own. I’m choosing this because I want to go out when I choose, not because some disease is taking me out,” he said.
Coulam’s decision to choose assisted suicide is a sad reminder that many times people choose to end their own lives when what they need is access to better healthcare. Coulam feels he has no choice because he has been let down time and again by the medical community. His case is not unlike that of a Canadian woman, who is considering assisted suicide because she can’t get the surgery she needs. As Canada continues to push MAiD deaths, many sick or disabled people are sadly left to think that the only option they have left is suicide.
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