Twin brothers who found out they were going blind have been euthanised by doctors in Belgium, despite not having a terminal illness or suffering from intolerable pain.
The Antwerp brothers, who were born deaf, were killed by lethal injection on December 14, after they told doctors that the thought of never seeing each other again was unbearable.
The 45-year-old siblings had lived and worked together as cobblers all their lives. It was the first time ever that two brothers have been allowed to die together, reported Het Laatste Nieuws.
The doctor who presided over the euthanasia, David Dufour, told RTL television news: "They were very happy. It was a relief to see the end of their suffering.
"They had a cup of coffee in the hall, it went well and they shared a rich conversation. The separation from their parents and brother was very serene and beautiful." reported AFP.
Belgium was the second country in the world to legalize euthanasia in 2002, but not for minors.
Prisoners are also allowed to choose death by euthanasia in Belgium. If new proposals by the Socialist Party are approved, Belgium could allow euthanasia for people under 18 and for people with Alzheimer’s.
A study in 2010 revealed that more than 100 nurses in Belgium had taken part in 'terminations without request or consent'.
The Belgium-based European Institute of Bioethics highlighted the "absence of any effective control" over euthanasia in December last year, according to the Telegraph.
In the Netherlands, the patient has to be at least 12 years old to be euthanised and patients between 12 and 16 years of age require the consent of their parents.
Euthanasia is illegal in the UK and any doctor who deliberately gives patient a lethal overdose can be prosecuted for murder. This continues to be the case, however since 1993, 'assisted suicides', those which remove treatment keeping someone alive, is not illegal.
The issue came to a head this year because of the plight of "locked-in" sufferer Tony Nicklinson, who lost a legal battle for the right to be helped to end his life when he chooses. He died just days after the High Court judgement, after reportedly refusing food.