Misdiagnosis of Coma Victim Re-ignites Euthanasia Debate

The testimony of Rom Houben, a misdiagnosed coma victim, has once again cast doubt on the campaign of the pro-euthanasia lobby.


Neurologist Steven Laureys, who discovered that Houben’s brain was in fact functioning normally 23 years after he was declared to be in a persistent vegetative state, maintained that this was not a unique case. In a BMC Neurology study published earlier this year, Laureys predicted that Houben could be one of many falsely diagnosed comas around the world. He concluded that coma patients were misdiagnosed “on a disturbingly regular basis” after examining 44 patients thought to be in a vegetative state and finding that 18 of them responded to communication.


Proponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide argue that people considered to be in a persistent vegetative state should be saved from the ‘indignity’ of their condition by withdrawing medical support. But patients like Houben, who said of his predicament “I screamed, but there was nothing there”, would be powerless to preventing such measures, incapable of stating their opposition.


The ProLife Alliance recognises the dangers of such a trivial approach to human life and strongly advocates for the protection of these vulnerable individuals and the recognition of fundamental rights for those who do not have a voice of their own.