A paralysed Italian man whose battle to be taken off life support divided the predominately Roman Catholic country has died. And an Italian doctor has reportedly stated he disconnected the artificial respirator. Piergiorgio Welby battled muscular dystrophy for forty of his sixty years and was attached to a respirator for the last nine. His legal campaign to be allowed to die was ultimately unsuccessful. News agency AFP quoted Dr Mario Riccio as saying he helped Welby die, by disconnecting his life support.
It said Dr Riccio, an anaesthetist, gave Welby drugs so he would not suffer. Last weekend, an Italian court denied permission for a doctor to sedate Welby and remove his respirator. Yesterday, Italy’s General Medical Council ruled he was not a victim of “unreasonable therapy”, so he could not take advantage of a legal defence for declining forced medical treatment. Welby’s fight has had some effect. Recent polls show more Italians now support euthanasia.