Man fights for right to die

Warsaw District Court has denied a euthanasia request for Janusz Switaj, a thirty-three year old man from Silesia who has been completely paralyzed after a motorcycle accident in 1993. Since the incident his parents have been his primary caregivers. Switaj wishes to cease the medical treatments keeping him alive once his parents can no longer care for him, informed Polish Radio.

Since May 18, 1993 Switaj has been attached to a life support system, and has had his parents assist him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “The injuries caused in the accident were tetrapelegia and respiratory failure. In brief, only my brain works properly now. I have been breathing by means of a mechanical ventilator for fourteen years,” he explains on his own web site, www.switaj.eu.

“Three years after my accident, Christopher Reeves, an American actor, producer, writer, and director, suffered a spinal cord injury. Reeves, who was well known for his role as Superman, spent $1.5 million a year on his rehabilitation. I am an average Polish person who functions in this world primarily due to my parents, who – if needs be – are my doctors, physiotherapists, and masseurs,” underlined Switaj.

Despite the Court’s refusal to grant Switaj’s euthanasia, he will continue to fight for his right to die. Euthanasia, being against Catholic teachings, has left the case of Janusz Switaj as an open debate. According to opinion surveys, a large number of Poles support Switaj’s case.

Upon hearing about Switaj, Polish Catholic priest Arkadiusz Nowak stated: “It’s easy for us to conclude that this person should live with his suffering. I believe that none of us could say with 100-percent certainty that he could tolerate pain with patience and profound faith. But from the point of view of Christian ethics, switching off the machine would be homicide.”

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