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Patient calls for right to die with dignity
( 2003-06-09 10:12) (1)

Wang Mingcheng, the man who triggered China's first euthanasia case in 1986, now wants to die by the same means.

Wang, a resident of Hanzhong in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, has been suffering from cancer since November 2000.

"Wang was diagnosed with stomach cancer in November 2000 and then underwent an operation to remove three-quarters of his stomach in our hospital. Wang also suffers from heart disease, hepatitis B, asthma and a heart condition, which make Wang very weak," said Liu Xiansheng, a doctor at a hospital where Wang is staying in Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi Province.

In November 2002, Wang was diagnosed to be also suffering from liver cancer from which he does not think he will recover. On February 4, he asked the hospital to carry out euthanasia for him, but was refused because this practice remains illegal, the doctor said.

"I cannot bear the suffering and want to die in the same way as my mother," Wang said with a weak voice from his hospital bed.

Wang's demand for euthanasia is all the more significant as he was the main person in an euthanasia case, which was the first in China some 17 years ago.

In early 1986, Xia Suwen, Wang's mother, who suffered from cirrhosis of the liver, was sent to hospital and her condition failed to improve after various medical treatments. On June 25, Wang asked the doctor to carry euthanasia on his mother in order to stop her suffering, but the doctor refused.

"I consulted many doctors for many times asking if my mother could recover, but they said there was no hope. And I could not bear to see my mother's suffering from the disease," Wang recalled.

Wang and his sister then urged Pu Liansheng, the doctor in charge of his mother to carry out euthanasia to their mother, and later the doctor agreed.

Xia Suwen passed away after receiving an injection of wintermin on June 29, 1986 in the hospital, becoming the first case of euthanasia in China.

After Xia's death, the Hanzhong Municipal Public Security Bureau started investigations and in September, Pu Liansheng and Wang Mingcheng were arrested for murder and the local procuratorate charged the two.

After reporting the case to the Supreme People's Court and in accordance with the suggestion from it, the local court found Pu and Wang not guilty on April 6, 1991.

Wang Honglin, a legal expert who worked on Pu and Wang's case, said that euthanasia is good for patients who have no hope of recovery and endure great suffering. He appealed for euthanasia to be legalized in order to limit any further suffering.

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