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Euthanasia Is Illegal In Chile; Young Patient Wants Right To Die

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Chile's president met on Sunday with an adolescent girl who posted a video online asking the president to let her die. She's 14 and she suffers from cystic fibrosis. NPR's South America correspondent, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, reports the case has set off passionate discussion about assisted suicide.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

VALENTINA: (Speaking Spanish).

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: In the video, Valentina Maureira sits in her hospital bed, breathing through oxygen tubes and makes a short plea addressed to Chile's president, Michele Bachelet. I'm tired of living with this illness, she says. I want her approval so I can get a shot that will make me sleep forever. She explains her brother died of the same illness when he was 6. Bachelet is trained as a pediatrician, and she went to visit the girl in the hospital over the weekend after the video went viral. Later her spokesman said it's impossible not to be overcome by emotion with the girl's request. It's impossible to grant her wish. Euthanasia is illegal in Chile. According to the Associated Press, the girl's father, Fredy Maureira, initially said he supported his daughter's request, though he said he cried through the night when he heard about her wish to die. She needs a lung and liver transplant in order to prolong her life. After Bachelet's visit, though, he told a local radio station that his daughter's spirits were lifted, and she will be participating in events to raise awareness of organ donation.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FREDY MAUREIRA: (Speaking Spanish).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He said, "I was thinking only of her these years, but she made me change." If you don't fight for other children, it's better to do nothing, he said. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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