Relatives of French right-to-die patient show 'interaction' video

10th June 2015, Comments 0 comments

A video of severely brain-damaged Frenchman Vincent Lambert was published online on Wednesday by relatives and friends campaigning to stop doctors from withdrawing life support.

Europe's rights court on Friday backed an earlier decision by a top French court that Lambert, who was left a quadriplegic in a vegetative state following a road accident in 2008, should be allowed to die.

The case has torn apart the Lambert family in a drawn out court battle over the fate of the 38-year-old.

The video uploaded to the Christian Family website appears to show Lambert in his hospital bed responding to interactions with his family.

During the short video, Lambert's eyes half open to his mother's voice when a mobile phone is brought to his ear, and he also responds to contact with his half-brother.

But Lambert's former doctor Eric Kariger said the responses did not prove he was reacting consciously.

"These patients in a vegetative state react to their environments but it is a vegetative response," said Kariger.

"This video is an attack on his dignity and his right to privacy -- it's manipulative and plays on people's emotions," he added.

The video was taken last Friday -- the same day that the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Lambert should be allowed to die

That ruling backed a decision last year by a top French court, based on the advice of three neuroscience experts, to withdraw intravenous food and water in line with a 2005 passive euthanasia law.

Lambert's wife, doctors and six of his eight siblings -- who argue he would not have wanted to be kept alive in such a state -- have fought to have the life support measures withdrawn.

But Lambert's parents, who are devout Catholics, along with two sisters and a half-brother insist he is merely severely disabled but not "at the end of his life".

"The family wanted to immortalise this moment ... to show who Vincent really is," family lawyer Jean Paillot told AFP of the video, adding Lambert was not a "person in a vegetative state with no interaction with anything."

The video shows Lambert's eyes flickering during contact with his brother but his wife, Rachel Lambert, argued that the "video does not show anything new".

She told AFP "the state of Vincent's health has not improved in years".


© 2015 AFP

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