Sunday, October 31, 2010

Locked-in syndrome woman receives Legion of Honour

Maryannick PavageauMichael Cook | BioEdge

France has just awarded the Légion d'honneur to a woman who has been a locked-in quadriplegic for 30 years. Maryannick Pavageau received the distinction for her battle against euthanasia. A resident of Sainte Nazaire, on the Atlantic coast, she gave an interview about her life to the local newspaper after this week’s award:

"I was 30 years old when I was struck down by this syndrome after a stroke. The disease was little known at the time, but Jean-Dominique Bauby has described it in his book The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It is a paralysis of the limbs, sometimes more, but you retain consciousness. I was one of the first to survive. After three months in a coma, I woke up to the amazement of the doctors! I started speech therapy and I spent 32 months in the hospital."

Mme Pavageau is a member of the Association of Locked-in Syndrome (ALIS) and contributed to the 2008 Leonetti commission report about euthanasia in France. "All life is worth living,” she told the newspaper. It can be beautiful, regardless of the state we are in. And change is always possible. That is the message of hope that I wish to convey. I am firmly against euthanasia because it is not physical suffering that guides the desire to die but a moment of discouragement, feeling like a burden... All those who ask to die are mostly looking for love." Read more

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