Sweden has first passive euthanasia since law relaxed

05 May 2010 - 22:06 By Sapa-AFP

A Swedish woman who was paralysed died Wednesday after her respirator was unplugged, in the country's first case of euthanasia since the law was relaxed last month, a Stockholm hospital said.

"The patient who asked the National Health Board to die, died at 5:33 pm (1533 GMT) after her respirator was unplugged," Annakarin Svenningsson, a spokeswoman for Stockholm's Danderyd hospital told AFP.

Sweden's health authority last month authorised passive euthanasia, whereby patients may request the termination of their treatment knowing that this will lead to their death.

The ruling followed a request for clarification by doctors, as Swedish law allowed for patients to refuse treatment, but assisted suicide --including shutting off respirators -- was classified as a crime.

Active euthanasia, such injecting a person with drugs in order to make them die, is still illegal in Sweden.

The change was also made following the request by the 32-year-old woman who died on Wednesday, whose name has not been disclosed.

Totally paralysed and dependent on a respirator since the age of six, she asked requested it be shut off when she was asleep.

"I don't want to suffer or rot any longer, the respirator is the only thing keeping me alive," she wrote.

After permission was granted for her to die, the woman told the daily Expressen: "I am very happy and at peace with my soul."