- The Paralympic gold medalist Marieke Vervoort has ended her life by euthanasia at the age of 40.
- Vervoort, a wheelchair racer who won medals at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, died in her hometown of Diest, Belgium, on Tuesday. Belgium is one of a handful of countries where active human euthanasia, or assisted suicide, is legal.
- The 40-year-old had an incurable degenerative spinal disease that paralyzed her from the waist down and also caused her incredible pain and seizures.
- “Can’t forget the good memories!” Vervoort said in a final Instagram post alongside a photo of her racing.
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The Paralympic gold medalist Marieke Vervoort has ended her life by euthanasia at the age of 40.
Vervoort, a wheelchair racer who won gold and silver at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and further medals four years later in Brazil, had an incurable degenerative spinal disease.
The Belgian athlete signed papers in 2008 that would one day allow doctors to end her life, according to the BBC, and on Tuesday she was legally euthanized in Belgium, her home country.
“Despite her physical limitations, she worked out an impressive sports career,” a statement from Vervoort’s hometown of Diest said. “Marieke was 40 years old.
“Marieke opted for euthanasia a few years ago and responded to her choice on Tuesday evening.”
The town is welcoming the public to sign a mourning register to celebrate Vervoort’s life, though her funeral will take place “in an intimate circle.”
Vervoort’s disease paralyzed her from the waist down and also caused pain and seizures. She described sport as her “medication,” saying it helped her smile through the pain.
“It can be that I feel very, very bad, I get an epileptic attack, I cry, I scream because of pain. I need a lot of painkillers, Valium, morphine,” she told the BBC in 2016.
“A lot of people ask me how is it possible that you can have such good results and still be smiling with all the pain and medication that eats your muscles. For me, sports, and racing with a wheelchair — it’s a kind of medication.”
In her final Instagram post just three days before her death, Vervoort posted a photo of her racing, alongside the caption “Can’t forget the good memories!”
Belgium is one of only five countries where active human euthanasia is legal. The others are the Netherlands, Colombia, Luxembourg, and Canada.
Source: Business Insider