Fight to make the death more bearable

News 30 September, 2017
  • Photo Pierre-Paul Biron
    Dr. Pierre Viens has been marked by her very first case of medical assistance to die, which dates back to the spring of 2016. An experience that made him say ” that he would never be the same “.

    Pierre-Paul Biron

    Saturday, 30 September 2017, 00:00

    Saturday, 30 September 2017, 00:00

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    A physician of 80 years of Portneuf, has chosen to focus her practice exclusively to medical help to die, making the last years of his career a fight to ensure that “those who want and deserve to” have it right.

    Dr. Pierre Viens has been marked by her very first case of medical assistance to die, which dates back to the spring of 2016. An experience that made him say ” that he would never be the same “.

    Over the 25 procedures for medical help to die that he has carried out until today, the Dr Just was in close touch with the law adopted in December 2015. A law expected that he describes with hindsight as being ” a true mine field “.

    “Some people who have drafted the law and who were against seem to be arranged to introduce the maximum of the stays to ensure that the minimum number of persons has access,” says the doctor who has over 50 years of practice.

    Many pitfalls

    These stays, what are the six conditions which the patient must meet up in the seconds prior to the injections which will put an end to his sufferings (see box). If some of the questions are logical and legitimate, others raise the ire of Dr Come. This last critical three conditions that would completely ignore ” the realities of the dying “. Yes, the patient should be able to decide, but we cannot require it to be competent cognitively until the last second, after the doctor.

    “This is the shit. It is an ignorance full of what is the usual mechanism of death, especially in cancer patients in the terminal phase “, growls the health care professional, who explains that patients even refuse comfort care due to an obsessive fear of inability. “They prefer to suffer martyrdom in the last days of their life to be able to satisfy a condition ridiculous. It, it is inhuman. “

    Last week in Montreal, a 59 year old man suffering from generalized cancer, took her own life by sacrificing himself in his vehicle after having suffered two denial of medical assistance to die.

    Extend the law

    Dr. Just was also against the concept of end-of-life that eliminates office some patients who suffer particularly from neurodegenerative diseases. These people, who shut themselves up gradually in their bodies as the disease gains ground, are doomed “to endure their fate,” laments the doctor.

    “The person finds that what he or she rest of life no longer makes any sense. The rest of her life, she is condemned to deteriorate little by little ; to spend 24 hours a day to look up at the ceiling thinking that tomorrow may just be worse. This is not the way life goes “, he insists.

    “Twenty-five percent of the people will be suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia at the end of their life. Statistics Canada predicts that it will rise to 30 % soon. When we know what is involved in Alzheimer’s disease, is expected to return the head directly in to the wall to react ? Is it expected that it is one-on-two ? This is where the law needs to change. It is not necessary to allow the request for assistance to die early than when it is seen that in an irreversible way, the patient will not be able to make decisions. “


    Only doctor from Portneuf to practice medical assistance to die, the Dr Just regrets that this practice is incompatible with the daily obligations of his colleagues.

    “The right to conscientious objection, there is not that much. It is an objection of convenience that we see. To respond to a request, you need to be a priority there-on for several days. During this time, if you have a calendar of clinic with 25 patients per day, must be that you clear your clinic ? That can’t be, ” insisted the doctor.

    He fights so day after day to force the government to find ways to work in the best interest of the patient who is dying.


    Tell these “dead human”

    Seeking a way to move beyond the legal debate surrounding medical aid in dying and to tell these stories of life, of which he is a privileged witness, Dr. Stone Just recently published the book The faces of medical help to die.

    Marked for life by these families in which he lived for a year and a half, the doctor of Portneuf was to share these stories that allow us to grasp ” what is actually medical help to die “.

    “Medical aid to die is the event free from the desire to be in control of his death. It does not address a type of person, it must apply to everyone, ” says the doctor who wished to bring the debate into the public space. “It was necessary to present the human face of the aid death. This is not a murder, this is not a disaster emotional as it was described on the occasion. “Here are some excerpts from this book.

    1. ” I ask her for the last time, the question now routine and his “yes” stringy reassures me, reassures the law, and fills with tears the eyes of those who remain. […] In a few seconds, she falls asleep soundly with a huge smile, the first in ten years. […] Behind me, the voice of his daughter broke the silence : “It is a mass of liberation.” We managed to make her this priceless gift. “

    2. ” She tells me not having slept on the eve of the visit to the second doctor as she was anxious to make a good impression and get the right answers. We cannot afford to fail an exam like that. “

    3. “The final scene is set as music paper. It will take place at 14 a.m., preceded by a last bottle of champagne and mood music. The grandchildren have not expressed a desire to be present. Their dad will take them into the forest where they will be creating a small fire, it will be their communion with the departure of grandma. “

    4. ” At 11 a.m., they are there. Her husband, a few relatives and friends. And she, laughing and making them laugh one last time. She requested to be taken in photo, is too serious and that one takes another (this photo, I got it, it was ordered to my intention). She gives the signal, and falls asleep immediately. […] We kiss, we thanked each other. Through crying, we feel the immense relief of having witnessed a death humane, serene, and dignified. “