Paralympic gold medallist dies by euthanasia at age 40
Paralympian gold medallist Marieke Vervoort has passed away by euthanasia at the age of 40, 11 years after making a promise to herself.
The Belgian Paralympian suffered from an incurable degenerative spinal condition which was diagnosed at the age of 21.
The diagnosis followed years of pain, and Vervoort continued to suffer after receiving her diagnosis.
"I know how I feel now, but I don't know how I'll feel after half an hour," she says. "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.
"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."
Vervoort was a strong advocate for euthanasia, as she first signed the documents necessary back in 2008, just six years after euthanasia was made legal in Belgium.
"I was a very depressed person. I was thinking about how I was going to kill myself,” she said.
"All those people who get those papers here in Belgium – they have a good feeling. They don't have to die in pain.
"They can choose a moment, and be with the people they want to be with. With euthanasia you're sure that you will have a soft, beautiful death."
A statement from the Belgian Paralympic Committee and IPC called her a “source of inspiration in our society”.View this post on Instagram
"We will not forget Marieke Vervoort's great sporting achievements, as well as her courage in the face of illness," said President of the Belgian Paralympic Committee, Anne d'Ieteren.
Marc Vergauwen, Secretary General of the Belgian Paralympic Committee, shared the same sentiment.
“Marieke Vervoort brought the disabled into the light with her two medals at the London Paralympic Games.
"Her performances as well as her spontaneous interviews after her races generated great media attention for Paralympic sport in Belgium and were a source of inspiration for our society."
Join our community of over 40,000-plus members today and get the latest Over60 news, offers and articles.
Get all the latest Over60 news, offers and articles.