The Greek Journalist Mr. Alexander Vellios Decided To Proceed To Euthanasia
By Kelly Fanarioti
At this post, I will not refer to the problems that the young generation faces in Greece but I will present a controversial subject as stated by the journalist Mr Alexander Vellios who I had the honor to interview.
Mr Vellios attracted media attention the moment he announced he had cancer and he decided to proceed to euthanasia – a word almost forbidden in the greek society. His first statements regarding assisted suicide spread with immense speed on social media firing various discussions among doctors, priests and cancer patients on this subject – taboo.
Many tried to convince him otherwise by referring to various “miraculous” herbs or innovative medical methods that could possibly help suppress the “monster” known as cancer. However, Mr. Vellios has made a definite decision for himself.
As he stated in our interview, euthanasia was a subject that he gave considerate thought since he was young and due to this fact when he was informed about his current health problem he almost decided spontaneously.
“ Since I was young I believed that every person has an inalienable right to choose how they are going to die. It is about a redemptive escape because being trapped in a body that may surprise you unpleasantly and painfully, is something that terrifies me. However, being able to escape from a sick body the moment you choose to, is salvation”, he explains with assertiveness.
At these unprecedented moments by his side stand his wife Nadia and his 20 years old son, who as the well known journalist says, he shows explicit strength and calmness. “ My six years old daughter does not know something about this matter. For her, to be informed about my health condition and my decision to proceed to euthanasia, is the duty of a psychologist, because doing it personally, I believe I could mess up. The porcelain nature of a child needs to be protected of bad cracks”.
How the Procedure takes place
The patients are asked to complete various documents, pay a deposit and present doctors’ latest consultation reports in order to proceed to euthanasia. When they go to the medical center, they are obliged to see a psychologist who asks them if they are absolutely sure about their decision to proceed to euthanasia. This session is videotaped so that the medical center is legally protected. After that, a glass of water that contains the lethal substance is given to the patient and in two minutes they are dead.
“I have watched a relevant video with an American patient that had multiple sclerosis and decided to proceed to euthanasia. It was a shocking experience I admit but comparing this image to the one of the patients at the hospital, I would definitely have the first choice” states with a smiling irony.
The cost for such a procedure is high, especially for greeks. Mr Vellios will have to pay 10,000€, an amount of money that he does not have and will be given to him by old friends. “I have asked doctors and anesthesiologists in Greece if they could grant me a lethal injection so that I avoid the trip and the cost. Unfortunately it is not possible. I have met of course many politicians, doctors and priests that are in favor of euthanasia but are afraid to admit it publicly”.
What Mr Vellios responds to his critics
Lately, there are a number of people that accused him that he takes advantage of his health problem in order to raise his book sales. However, as he decisively mentions, the book profits can not make him a rich man, although during all the years of his career as a journalist he was given many chances to be rich. “ If they think that I expect to become rich from selling a small book costing 10€, deducting the cost of the publisher, bookstores and distribution rights, what can I say? If I really wanted to be rich, I would have made it from my profession as a journalist all these years, like most of my colleagues have done. There are always lucrative propositions and chances to be a mercenary of other people’s interest in order to become rich. I have never done it”, he states clearly.
His goal, as he admits, is to stimulate a public fight regarding the right of someone to choose the way they die. Himself, however, is very optimistic because as he says he has spoken with the right people and soon enough the legal framework in Greece will change. “ I have reasons to believe that the greek government will revise our Constitution and the political system will not block the procedure. The publicity that this subject attracted because of me, showed that there is a considerable number of people who are sensitive, conscious and ready to welcome such a progressive act of changing the legislation“, he mentions.
In conclusion, the journalist clearly stated that he is not in a position to impose euthanasia to anyone, however the right for a patient to choose their death is sacred. “ I propagandize the right to choose, I do not assign my right to choose how I die to church, law or medicine. Personally, I choose to “leave” painless and with dignity” he concludes.