Valentina Maureira is a 14-year-old schoolgirl from Santiago, Chile, who has battled cystic fibrosis since birth.
The genetic disorder usually affects a person’s respiratory and digestive systems and is classified as a chronic disease. The life expectancy for someone with the condition is around 37 years, given the disease is carefully managed, which includes reliance on a cocktail of drugs that control some of the least tolerable symptoms.
Valentina has been in and out of the hospital multiple times since being diagnosed at a young age and has already lost her brother to the disease. After her most recent hospitalization due to a lung infection, she has decided she no longer has any desire to keep fighting for her life.
So she recorded a short video on her phone and posted it on Facebook while at the hospital. In it she appeals to the president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, to allow her to take a lethal injection to end the battle.
“I am Valentina Maureira, I am 14 years old and I suffer from cystic fibrosis” she says in the video. “I request an urgent talk with the president because I am tired of living with this disease and only she can authorize me the lethal injection I want that will allow me to fall asleep forever. My older brother, Michael, has already died from the same disease so I know what will eventually happen to me.”
Valentina’s father, Freddy Maureira, was understandably devastated by his daughter’s decision but said he will support her regardless.
“Vale may only be 14, but she’s somebody that has been forced to be wise far beyond her years” he said of his daughter. “She has already had five operations which have caused her a lot of suffering and pain. It was promised that things would get better, but for her it was worse.”
He also discusses the wider implications of the decision and what it means to choose to die.
“She wants to find the strength to fight for the right to die for her and for other children. I say this is a wake-up call for the whole subject to be discussed and debated.”
He added, “Perhaps if the president doesn’t want to grant her wish she might be able to authorize better treatment for my daughter and more research into the disease. The president is the only card we have left. My daughter has been in this hospital for a month and she was in another hospital almost for four months before that.”
Government spokesman Alvaro Elizalde said the health ministry has been in contact with the family to ensure the teen has received the proper psychological and medical treatment she needs, but added that the current law in Chile doesn’t allow “the government to agree to a request of this nature.”
The original video is in Spanish but can be viewed with translation over at the Mirror.