Canadian Long COVID sufferer applies for assisted dying over lack of support for condition

A Canadian woman suffering from Long COVID for over two years has applied for assisted dying after a lack of support has left her with nowhere else to turn.

Tracey Thompson, a Toronto resident in her 50s, is waiting for her second specialist approval for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) after her ongoing COVID symptoms robbed her of her energy and ability, leaving her 'basically bedbound' and almost broke.

MAiD is a legal voluntary form of euthanasia that became legal in Canada in 2016. According to the Canadian Government's figures, there have been 21,589 medically assisted deaths since it became legal.

Thompson, a former chef, told CCTV News she has lost 26 months' worth of income, and with no foreseeable ability to return to work and an absence of support, she expects to run out of money in five months.

"[MAiD] is exclusively a financial consideration," she told the outlet. "My choices are basically to die slowly and painfully, or quickly. Those are the options that are left."

Thompson's symptoms include severe fatigue, being unable to read longer than a tweet, blurring vision around sunset, difficulty digesting food, altered taste and smell, problems breathing and scars on her heart from swelling due to myocarditis.

"From being able-bodied and employed to basically bedbound. I can't get up on average for 20-plus hours. I have very little capacity to expend the energy physically, mentally and emotionally, so I try to stay home all the time," Thompson told CCTV News.

Long COVID is the term used to describe the effects of coronavirus that continue or develop for at least three months after initial infection. Patients can experience a range of debilitating symptoms, including chronic fatigue, brain fog, chest pain and even shrinking of the brain. 

Experts are warning that as many as 200,000 New Zealanders could be affected by the condition, but currently, there is little to no financial support. 

Thompson said she didn't want to die, but with no financial support in Canada, she would struggle to survive without an income.

"I don't relish the idea of suffering for months to come to the same conclusion. When support is not coming, things aren't going to change," she told the outlet.

"It seems irrational to put myself through that just to die in the end."

Thompson has received one doctor's approval and is waiting to hear back from a second specialist to be considered for MAiD.

Since there is no treatment or cure for Long COVID, Thompson believes she will get approval.

When MAiD first became legal in Canada it was only available for people who were terminally ill. However, last year the criteria changed and was replaced with the language "cannot be relieved under conditions that you consider acceptable".

From March 17 next year, the scheme will be expanded to include people with mental illness as their sole underlying medical condition.