The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Relook at mercy killing

Hyderabad, Dec. 9: At 25, K. Venkatesh wants to die. But his death-wish hinges on a committee that will decide whether his organs are fit for transplant.

Andhra Pradesh High Court today admitted a petition for mercy killing from the terminally ill Venkatesh, but tagged the request to a clearance from the panel that the state government has been asked to set up.

The court has not said it would allow mercy killing. No court in India has ever permitted that, barring once in 1981 when an accident victim on his death bed was relieved of his pain on the request of his relatives so that his kidney could be donated.

But inherent in today's order is an acknowledgement rarely made before ' that mercy killing is an issue that needs to be deliberated upon.

A division bench said the panel should decide whether Venkatesh's wish to donate his organs could be considered under the Andhra Pradesh Human Organs Transplantation Act of 1995. The government said the committee would be set up in a few days.

Venkatesh, who is afflicted with muscular dystrophy ' a hereditary condition marked by progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles ' had written to the court saying he could no longer endure the pain. 'I want to donate my organs to help others live,' he said in the letter.

The genetic disorder, detected when he was six, has confined the resident of Humayunnagar in Hyderabad to a wheelchair for most of his life. But his condition deteriorated over the last six months after more muscular complications shrunk his windpipe.

'His chances of survival' are very remote,' doctors have said in a report to the court.

'My mother (Sujata) virtually made me live all these years,' Venkatesh wrote. His mother's support also helped him get a BCom degree through a correspondence course.

It was his mother who filed the petition. 'Looking at how painful it is for him to live, I steeled myself to file this writ petition,' the 43-year-old said. 'I have already signed an approval for donation of his eyes. We will donate all the parts free to the needy as he wishes,' she said.

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