On April 9th, Dr. Sanchez who is in charge of Vincent Lambert at the University Hospital in Reims, France, informed the family members of the decision resulting from the collegial process which had started last September. In his opinion Vincent Lambert’s situation should be qualified as “unreasonable obstinacy”. He said he was in favor of stopping treatment, which means stopping nutrition and hydration, which will lead to his death. This is a new judicial development in the ongoing family conflict which began 5 years ago. In 2013, Vincent survived the withdrawal of artificial nutrition and hydration, decided by the first collegial procedure with his wife’s consent, but without his parents’ knowledge. When the parents filed an emergency court motion, the judge ordered that nutrition be immediately re-established. Contrary to what was reported in the media, Vincent Lambert’s condition is not comatose, nor vegetative. Indeed, he is in a pauci-relational state and not at the end of his life. Some family members have been requesting Vincent’s transfer to a specialized unit such as were created in 2002 by the French law Relating to Patients’ Rights, to care for those individuals in a chronic vegetative or pauci-relational state. Dr. Sanchez warned that nutrition is planned to be stopped within 10 days. The family members will only have this short time to file an appeal with the administrative authorities. In an open letter to the French President published in “Le Figaro” newspaper on April 11, 2018, Vincent Lambert’s mother asked to be heard urgently by the President to reveal her son’s true condition. “Like the other 1,700 individuals with the same disability, Vincent should already have been placed in a specialized unit for patients with brain injury. Instead, he was admitted to palliative care, without appropriate treatment, without physiotherapy, which could have allowed him to progress. Several institutions for victims of serious road accidents are ready to care for him. Nevertheless he is still being held in palliative care in a hospital that is unqualified for providing such care. “ Tugdual Derville, Alliance VITA’s General Delegate, author of “The Battle of Euthanasia” and founder of SOS End-of-Life, was interviewed live on April 10, 2018, on the Catholic Television “KTO” on the program “At the Source” regarding this situation: “First of all, it’s a very complicated situation, with family members with opposing opinions. On one side his wife and nephew, and on the other side Vincent’s parents and some of brothers and sisters. He is in a “pauci-relational” state, meaning that he cannot express himself clearly, and has not made any advance declaration, but he doesn’t receive any special treatment. He needs nutrition, and even that was withdrawn 5 years ago, in 2013 for 31 days. Professor Xavier Ducrocq, a neurologist who accompanies his parents and who knows Vincent well declares that the fact that he survived that episode denotes his vitality. Someone who can survive that demonstrates a life force, maybe even his determination to live. Vincent Lambert is not at the end of his life, and if the decision is enforced to stop feeding him, it will cause his death. This would be an act of euthanasia, especially since he has no specific treatment, and this would certainly result in his death. We think about the thousands of neuro-vegetative and pauci-relational patients who are in specialized establishments. What Vincent Lambert’s family is requesting is that he could leave the palliative care unit, which is inappropriate for his condition, and be admitted in a center where he could receive the rehabilitative care he has been deprived of for years now. Providing appropriate care for these patients is a critical issue. Because once society no longer considers them worthy to exist, the role and duties of all the others, their relatives, and caregivers who unceasingly devote time themselves are thus being contradicted. “ _________________________ For further information refer to: The judiciary procedures concerning Vincent Lambert]]>
On September 13, 2022, the “CCNE” (French National Consultative Ethics Committee) published recommendation N° 139. Essentially it recommends for palliative care to be reinforced and for “some unavoidable ethical prerequisites” in the event that euthanasia and assisted suicide are legalized.