The End of Life Option Act, which allows physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients, was signed into law in California on Monday by Governor Jerry Brown. The law, which will go into effect in 2016, allows patients to seek options for aid in dying if two doctors determine they have less than six months to live. The patient also needs to submit a written request, two oral requests, and have the mental capacity to make decisions.
Christy O’Donnell, who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer over a year ago, made it her passion to see that the law was passed. “I did not want anyone to go through what I knew I was going to have to go through at my death,” says O’Donnell, during a recent appearance on The Doctors. She explains that she has tried every type of medical treatment, including 12 months of chemotherapy and brain surgery, and while they have helped to keep her alive, it has not been without suffering. “My death is already going to come. It is already certain, medically, and there’s no reason that I need to add to my daughter’s emotional suffering or mine by not having peace at my death, and I just hope and I pray that I have the right words and say the right things for all of the thousands of terminally ill who can’t speak for themselves," says the 47-year-old.
A single mother to a 21-year-old, O’Donnell says she wants to make sure her last moments with her daughter will be something her daughter can remember positively.
“You realize that it’s very important the memory that your child is going to have to carry the rest of their life,” she says, “and I do not want my child’s last memory of me to be of me in excruciating pain while my lung fills up with my bodily fluid, and I essentially drown in my own fluids. This end of life options act gives me and thousands of other terminally ill patients in California the ability to die peacefully, quickly, with our family.”
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