Cognitively disabled French man threatened with death by dehydration

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Vincent Lambert with his mother.

Vincent Lambert with his mother.

The Vincent Lambert case in Reims France may be changing direction after the Reims Appeals Court appointed Vincent’s wife, Rachel Lambert, as his primary guardian.

Vincent Lambert became severely cognitively disabled in a motorcycle accident injury in 2008. His wife unsuccessfully petitioned the court to have all treatment and care ceased, including food and water. Lambert’s parents want their son transferred to a rehabilitation center.

In their July 8 press release Alliance Vita said it “was troubled by the confirmation by the Reims Appeals Court designating Vincent Lambert’s spouse as his legal guardian on Friday July 8.”

It should be noted that one of the major issues involved in this decision is not only for continuing or discontinuing artificial nutrition and hydration, allowing Vincent Lambert to continue living despite his heavy dependency and his poorly-relating state, it is now also a question of which Medical Center will care for him. Vincent’s parents have requested for him to be admitted to a center specialized for patients in “poorly-relating and neuro-vegetative states”. This would allow Vincent to benefit from physical therapy, occupational therapy and have outdoor access for fresh air that he has been deprived of for years.

Tugdual Derville, General Delegate for Alliance VITA, added

“It’s not a question here of pretending to decide between painful differences between a spouse and parents. It’s a question of giving Vincent, via an independent guardian, every chance to be accommodated favorably, in accordance with his condition, and not the personal desires of different family members. The debate regarding the alleged urgency to see him die has in fact eclipsed the genuine scandal of his confinement and being deprived of necessary care for his heavy dependency. Don’t forget that Vincent’s case also concerns thousands of patients today in France who live in comparable state, although family situations are always unique. If, from a distance, many French believe these conditions to be unbearable, one should admire the courageous commitment to care-givers and their family members who remain devoted at their bedsides. More than one can imagine, taking care of dependant family members is an honor to society and one of the most uncontestable signs of humanity.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at