Víctor Escobar decided to die this Friday and make it public. He is one of the first Latin Americans to end his life without being terminally ill and he wanted to “open a door” for others to access assisted death under a decision of the Justice of Colombia.
Within hours of ending his life, the 60-year-old celebrated winning a more than two-year legal battle to rest from the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that prevented him from breathing on his own.
“Little by little it is each one’s turn, so I don’t say goodbye, but see you later. And little by little we will find ourselves where God has us, “reflected the Catholic Escobar in a video sent to the media.
He died in the city of Cali (southwest) under medical assistance, as confirmed by his lawyer on Twitter. In the last images he was seen smiling with his family.
Colombia It decriminalized assisted death in 1997 and in July 2021 the justice system expanded the “right to a dignified death” for patients who are not in the terminal phase. It is the first Latin American country to take that step and one of the few in the world despite its Catholic tradition.
“I already felt very bad, I felt that my lungs did not respond to me,” he explained. Escobar to AFP in October last year, when he was waging the last chapter of his long legal battle to die.
Diabetes and the aftermath of a cardiovascular accident aggravated Escobar’s condition and left him in a wheelchair, where spasms shook his body.
His family supported euthanasia.
“They never imagined that someone in my family would make such a decision, but thank God everyone gave me their full support,” he has a crucifix on his back.
In Europe only Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Spain legalized euthanasia. Even if Colombia joins the meager world list, there are still gaps that prevent the fulfillment of that mandate.
Until mid-2021, patients like Víctor – who suffer from chronic diseases but whose life expectancy exceeds six months – could not access the procedure.
“They were being forced to live in unworthy conditions against their will,” Mónica Giraldo, director of the NGO Fundación Derecho a Morir Dignamente explains to AFP.
Giraldo assures that three non-terminal patients have already agreed to euthanasia as a result of the ruling. Escobar is the first to do so publicly.
“I want my story to be known because it opens a thread so that patients like me, who are degenerative patients, have an open door so that they can request their rest,” he explained Escobar.
In October 2021, a health entity again rejected Escobarl’s euthanasia after two years of unsuccessful requests.
A committee from the Imbanaco medical center then argued that Escobar’s disease was not in the terminal phase and “that all the possibilities of management to alleviate symptoms have not been ruled out.”
A few days earlier, in the city of Medellín, the euthanasia of Martha Sepúlveda, a 51-year-old woman with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, was canceled at the last minute by another committee because her case “does not meet the termination criteria.”
Thanks to a judicial appeal, Escobar’s case was reviewed and a judge ordered that his will be carried out. The agreed date was Friday, January 7. According to his lawyer, Víctor chose this day for his relatives to attend his funeral during the weekend without inconvenience.