A 14-year-old Chilean girl suffering from terminal cystic fibrosis is asking her country’s president for permission to end her life.
Valentina Maureira, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a baby, recently published an emotional self-shot video on her Facebook page pleading for a meeting with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.
“My name is Valentina Maureira, I am fourteen and I suffer from cystic fibrosis,” the teenager says in the video, which she filmed with a cellphone in her hospital room. “I need to speak urgently with the president because I am tired of living with this disease, and she can authorize an injection that will allow me to sleep forever.”
The video, posted on Sunday night, has gone viral on YouTube.
A Chilean government spokesman said on Thursday that the nation’s laws, which prevent assisted suicide, also prevent the president from granting Valentina's request.
But the teenager’s desperate plea has moved the South American nation of 20 million people.
#ValentinaMoureira became the top trending topic on Chilean Twitter on Thursday. The girl's video has also sparked a broader conversation about whether euthanasia should be legalized in the largely Catholic nation.
“I don’t know about you, but this case makes me feel a lot of pain and frustration. How many Valentinas are there? Where is our power to choose?” Chilean TV host Edo Fuentes wrote on Twitter.
“I am mad at Valentina’s attitude, there are people who suffer more and resist,” wrote another Twitter user identified as "Leito."
Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease with no cure, severely debilitates patients by clogging their lungs and organs with thick layers of mucus.
Valentina, who weighs 77 lbs, relies on breathing machines and is fed through a tube. Her plea for euthanasia came after the death of another cystic fibrosis patient at her hospital last month.
“It’s been 14 years of daily struggles,” Valentina told BBC Mundo, adding that her brother, Michael, died at age 6 from the same disease. "I'm tired of struggling and always seeing the same results.”
Valentina needs a triple organ transplant —lung, pancreas and liver, in order to live for a few more years.
“It’s a very complicated disease,” Valentina’s father, Fredy Maureira, told a Colombian radio station on Thursday. “She knows the transplant is risky and asked me ‘dad, what if I die during the transplant?”
Maureira says he wasn't with his daughter when she made her Facebook video.
“The video felt like a bomb,” Valentina’s father said. “This disease is very tough on the parents too.”
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.