New Bilingual Videos Featuring Deceased Chicagoan Show Need for Illinois Medical Aid-in-Dying Law
Videos Released on Fifth Anniversary of Latino Chef Miguel Carrasquillo’s Death
Compassion & Choices today released bilingual videos of deceased Chicagoan Miguel Carrasquillo to commemorate the fifth anniversary of his horrific death from brain cancer and demonstrate the need to introduce and pass a medical aid-in-dying law in Illinois. Medical aid-in-dying laws allow mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to have the option to obtain prescription medication they can decide to take to peacefully end their suffering if it becomes unbearable.
In 2012, at age 31, Miguel was realizing his dream as a chef at Petterino’s in Chicago when doctors diagnosed him with an aggressive and deadly brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme. Miguel underwent agonizingly painful treatments to try to cure the cancer, but it continued to spread throughout his body. As a result, Miguel moved from Chicago back to his native Puerto Rico, so his mother Nilsa could provide end-of-life care for him.
Miguel, 35, died on June 5, 2016, but not the way he so desperately wanted: peacefully and without suffering.
Since Miguel’s death, three states with large Latino populations have passed laws to authorize medical aid in dying: Colorado, New Jersey and New Mexico.
In addition to Mauricio Ochmann, other prominent Latinos like the legendary Civil Rights Activist Dolores Huerta have come forward to urge Latinos to advocate for passage of medical aid-in-dying laws nationwide.
Today, 69 percent of Latinos nationwide support medical aid in dying.
“Latinos identified with Miguel because he was one of us,” Mauricio Ochmann says in the video. “We saw Miguel as a son, an uncle. We saw him as our cousin, our brother. Latinos saw Miguel as our friend. And we came forward in support.”
In his final weeks, Miguel became an advocate for the end-of-life care options movement, urging Illinois lawmakers to pass a medical aid-in-dying bill.
“Everyday we have to deal with pain: headaches, back pains, electric shock all over your body, convulsions, seizures,” Miguel says in the video. “I’m spending the last months of my
Life talking about the end of life ‘cause people need to know that you have the option of that. I want the option to choose how I want to die.”
Miguel’s mother, Nilsa Centeno, spoke about her initial hesitation to support the option of medical aid in dying:
“I was raised to know that God gives life and God takes life,” Nilsa says in the video. “But after seeing what my son went through, I learned that is not the case.”
On May 25, 2016, Miguel used a cell phone to record what became his last message to garner support for medical aid in dying. He died 10 days later.
“Before I go on, I just wanted to tell you guys to keep fighting,” he says in the video recorded outside his home in Puerto Rico. “‘cause we have nothing, just suffer[ing] and pain ‘cause what other options [do] we have? We need to keep fighting and fighting until somebody listen[s] to us.”