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Alarm in Europe over spiraling euthanasia figures

Latest death after botched sex change ignites controversy

Alarm in Europe over spiraling euthanasia figures

A euthanasia kit used in Belgium (picture: Etienne Ansotte/AFP) 

Alexander Smith for NBC News
Belgium

October 8, 2013

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A high-profile case of a Belgian transsexual who chose to be killed by medical euthanasia after a sex-change operation turned him into a "monster" has highlighted the soaring number of people in the region electing to die this way – and has raised fresh questions over the controversial practice.

Nathan Verhelst, born Nancy, gave an interview to a local newspaper hours before his death this week citing his "unbearable psychological suffering" – rather than a terminal or degenerative physical illness – as his reason for dying voluntarily.

"When I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted with myself. My new breasts did not match my expectations and my new penis had symptoms of rejection. I do not want to be... a monster," Verhelst told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, referencing his double mastectomy and surgery to construct a penis last year.

Verhelst, 44, was killed by voluntary lethal injection on Monday according to local media reports.

Euthanasia, the act of a doctor directly killing a patient, is becoming more popular in Belgium and the Netherlands, which along with Luxembourg have all legalized euthanasia in the past 10 years and are the only three countries in the world where the practice is legal.

Last week the Dutch government released figures showing that in 2012 there were 4,188 cases of euthanasia or assisted suicide, or almost 1 in 30 deaths, while in 2011 there were 3,695 such cases – a yearly jump of 13 percent. 

Full Story: 'Painless death' or 'precipitous cliff'? Transsexual chooses euthanasia after failed operation 

Source: NBC News

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