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News > Latin America

Colombian Doctor Admits to 360 'Secret' Euthanasia Procedures

  • Colombian doctor Gustavo Quintana says he has assisted 366 of his patients with medical suicides.

    Colombian doctor Gustavo Quintana says he has assisted 366 of his patients with medical suicides. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 April 2018

Colombia is the only country in Latin America – and one of only four in the world – in which euthanasia is legal.

A Colombian doctor has publicly admitted to performing over 360 euthanasia procedures throughout Latin America, where the practise is outlawed in all but one country.


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Gustavo Quintana, 76, says he has assisted 366 of his patients with medical suicides throughout Latin America, barring the Guianas and Brazil, and was practicing in his native Colombia long before euthanasia was legalized there in 2015, making it the fouth country in the world to do so.

"They have been secret procedures, with patients so terminal that nobody was surprised that they died," Quintana told La Tercero in a phone interview.

Citing his experience, Quintana said he is the most appropriate representative for the dying community during sessions of state, comparing himself to the ancient Greek mythological character Charon, who assisted souls on their journey to Hades.

"There is no dramatic agony: in six or ten minutes the person fulfills his wish, without pain," Quintana said. "For me it is more important, from the ethical point of view, the decision of the patient, who can no longer recover his health, who is suffering and be allowed to end his life if he wants.

"In the case of my patients, they were people who fought all their lives with antidepressants to maintain their dignity, but after so much effort and without results, they got the support of their own families and asked to rest from their illness.

"We were born to get happiness in exchange for some difficulties; it is always better to live than to die, but there are specific cases where it is not possible."

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Colombia is the only nation in Latin America and one of only four in the world in which euthanasia is legal. The medical expert said that euthanasia should always be performed intravenously, although an

The interview came shortly after an Austrian doctor, Philip Nitschke, unveiled his futuristic alternative for "peaceful passing."

The Sarco, a 3D-printed biodegradable sarcophagus, sends a cloud of nitrogen into the device's sealed capsule, causing the individual to fall asleep before death occurs.

"A Sarco death is painless: there's no suffocation, choking sensation or 'air hunger,' as the user breathes easily in a low-oxygen environment. The sensation is one of well-being and intoxication," Nitschke told the Huffington Post.

The 'suicide machine,' as some have called it, also includes a 'panic button' which opens an emergency window and shoots a burst of oxygen into the unit should the user experience a last-minute change of heart.

"The Sarco is intended to get people talking positively about death and with broader considerations than being afraid, scared or shocked," the Sarco's Austrian manufacturer said in a statement.

"After all, we are all going to die. Increasing numbers of us want some say in how we are going to die."

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