Chile's president meets with ailing teen who asked to die

AP News
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Posted: Feb 28, 2015 5:33 PM
Chile's president meets with ailing teen who asked to die

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile's president went to a hospital Saturday to meet with a 14-year-old girl who shocked the country by going on YouTube to plead for the leader to let doctors euthanize her because she is tired of her struggle with cystic fibrosis.

The government quickly said no after the video began spreading on social media Thursday.

A government statement said President Michelle Bachelet talked with Valentina Maureira and her father for more than an hour at the Catholic University hospital in the capital.

Officials did not release any information on what was said. But the government provided photographs of the visit, including one of Valentina taking a selfie with the president, who is also a pediatrician.

Valentina grabbed attention after posting on YouTube a video that appeared to have been shot from a hospital bed.

"I urgently request to speak to the president because I'm tired of living with this illness," said the teenager, whose older brother died at age 6 from the same disease. "I want her approval so I can get a shot that will make me sleep forever."

Cystic fibrosis damages multiple organs, especially the lungs, by causing recurrent infections that damage tissue. Valentina said she was frustrated by the lack of options and by how the disease had hurt her quality of life.

On Thursday, presidential spokesman Alvaro Elizalde expressed sympathy for Valentina's plight, but stressed that Chilean law does not allow euthanasia.

"It's impossible not to be overcome by emotion with the girl's request; it's impossible to grant her wish," Elizalde said.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, the girl's father, Fredy Maureira, said he supported his daughter's request, though he added that he "cried through the night" after he first heard about her wish to die.

"This is so tough, but I have to respect her decision because she's the one who's suffering this illness," Maureira said.