Dr Lauren Mai is a stroke neurologist who speaks about treatment options for stroke patients. She expresses concerns that MAiD assessors are not experts in stroke recovery and propose MAiD as the solution.
Something that’s always remarkably surprising from the stroke literature, for example, is that people with the most devastating strokes, once they have got over that acute phase and they have lived with that disability actually rate their quality of life on par with those who would not have disabilities.
There is this one surgery that we offer to people who have had the most devastating strokes where its life saving. People often say, should I even bother offering that because they will be left with so much disability. If you actually interviewed those very people who have experienced that surgery and say would you still have asked for that life saving procedure or would you have been better off dying? It’s an overwhelming 70% to 80% who will say absolutely I would want that life saving surgery.
And their family, who maybe burdened with their care-giving, for example, echo that thought that, Yes, this is a life still worth living. And it’s amazing, but it’s almost hard to believe it until you see those people and you ask them that question and its so uplifting to see.
Even though, what I perceive has perhaps a very difficult life, a challenging life, because of functional dependence, is a life that is worth living, that has meaning, and really brings meaning to those around them as well.
The reality is, referral to an assessor for medical assistance in dying gets you to someone who may not be an expert in what it is that you are presenting with in your medical condition.
Medical assistance in dying assessors are often very pro medical assistance in dying and see autonomy as the most important value and so if a patient is requesting it that assessment happens to be, are they able to consent or not. And unfortunately we are just seeing such high rates of acceptance for medical assistance in dying when there would be real concerns about whether this patient is even truly terminally ill. So I already see exceptions to the law being broken and really a clear lack of safeguards.
When we are asking MAiD assessors to see these patients, its easy for them to come up with any sort of reason to say that there is some sort of illness that makes death reasonably foreseeable.