Mandela’s long hospitalization sparks end-of-life discussions in South Africa

Monday, July 15, 2013

JOHANNESBURG — Sean Davison’s mother, a doctor, knew she faced an impending, painful death from cancer. Not willing to endure it, she chose to end her life by not eating. That attempt, Davison said, went terribly wrong.

“It went on for five weeks drinking a glass of water each day,” said Davison, a South African citizen by way of New Zealand. “She was decomposing. She couldn’t move any limb of her body, which is when I helped her, at her request, to end her life.”

End-of-life decisions have become a burning topic of discussion in South Africa, where former President Nelson Mandela has been hospitalized for five weeks, much of that time in critical condition.

A court filing late last month stated that Mandela was in a “permanent vegetative state” but that appears to have been either exaggerated or simply incorrect.

A report from the Mail and Guardian, a respected South African newspaper, said that the 94-year-old does not have a living will, meaning tricky end-of-life decisions could be left to a very fractured Mandela family.

Source: Star Tribune (link opens in a new window)

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