On Line Opinion 26 February 2014
Last week, The Times featured the heart-warming story of Deryn Blackwell, a 14 year-old boy who having been told he would likely die within a short time is now, against the odds, making a remarkable recovery.
After the last of four bone marrow transplants in his treatment for a rare form of cancer, Deryn’s parents were told that he was unlikely to survive beyond 50 days.
Deryn accepted his fate and was planning his own funeral. Today, though, he is relieved at the turn around in his condition and hopeful of a bright future.
The story strikes a chord at a time when British and other European news media are regularly reporting a growth of interest in assisted dying. The Belgian government recently voted to accept the practice for children.
The Netherlands, so often at the vanguard of ultra-liberal policies, was one of the first nations to rule that children could request assisted dying. Its law stipulates that children must be experiencing ‘unbearable suffering’ and that they must have made a ‘reasoned decision’ to die, with the support of their parents.