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Piergiorgio Welby
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Advocate
    (December 26, 1945-December 20, 2006)
    Born in Rome, Italy
    Italian poet and painter
    Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age 17
    Condition worsened and led to him needing a permanent ventilator, feeding tube and speech synthesizer for him to communicate (July 1997)
    Became a right-to-die activist and sparked debate in Italy over euthanasia
    Died in a Rome hospital at age 60 after winning an appeal to have his ventilator turned off
    After his initial diagnosis as a teen, he turned to drugs for comfort.
    He didn't marry until after age 40, and by that time he was paralyzed from the waist down.
    He solicited help from the Italian Radical Party in his quest to die.
    He chose to fight the Italian legal system rather than travel to the Netherlands, Belgium or Switzerland, where doctor-assisted suicide is legal.
    His wife has maintained his blog years after his death.
    He traveled extensively throughout Europe in the late '60s-early '70s as part of the hippie movement.
    A methadone-based therapy treatment helped him kick his drug dependency, but accelerated the progression of his disease.
    He had to endure not just the pain of his disease, but the political and media frenzy that was heaped on him like the Terri Schiavo case in the U.S the previous year.
    After a synthesized plea to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in September 2006 and several courtroom sessions later, he was allowed to have his respirator shut off and NOT have doctors try to revive him after he stopped breathing.
    He wanted to have Antonio Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons' played as his life support was turned off, but the hospital didn't have it handy, so he settled for Bob Dylan.
    The Roman Catholic Church denied him the right to a religious funeral, a spokesman declaring, 'Welby had repeatedly and publicly affirmed his desire to end his own life, which is against Catholic doctrine.' (really, the church believes this is the action a loving God would want carried out?)

Credit: Scar Tactics


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