Euthanasia is one of the most controversial issues in modern medicine. Holger Unger explains the ongoing debate in the Netherlands, the first country to have legalised euthanasia
I returned from the Christmas break in Germany wondering whether I had seen my grandfather for the last time. He has a terminal illness and is deteriorating. During the holidays I visited him a great deal. I suspected that his prognosis was poor, so I tried to prepare myself for the worst. I was still shocked, however, not by his appearance, or by the news from the doctors but by what he said to me. He told me he had had a good life but would rather end his life than go on as he is and that the doctors should help to end his suffering. Euthanasia had never been discussed in our family. I did not know what to say so I said nothing.
Once off the train, my thoughts turn to the new term ahead. It is Monday morning, 8 am, and the teaching ward round is about