Duo-euthanasia: This ailing Dutch couple decided to die together after over six decades of love and five decades of marriage

Jan Faber and Els decided to ask doctors to give them lethal medication together

Els van Leeningen and jan faber Els van Leeningen and Jan Faber photographed only a few days ahead of the death by duo-euthanasia | X

In the Netherlands, there is a provision for ailing couples to opt for what is known as duo-euthanasia. Simply put, partners will be given lethal medication by doctors if they opt to leave this world together. 

Jan Faber (70) and Els van Leeningen (71) made news when they decided to opt for duo-euthanasia earlier in June after five decades of matrimony. They were reportedly administered lethal medication by doctors and died together on 3 June 2024.

Media reports claim Jan and Els met in kindergarten and never parted ways. As they grew up, Jan became an athlete and sports coach before entering an inland cargo business. Els was a primary school teacher.

Jan Faber had persistent back issues. Even undergoing surgery couldn't help him as the pain persists to this day, he told the BBC only days before taking the lethal injection with his wife.

In 2018, Els retired from teaching and was showing early signs of dementia. She refused to consult a doctor as she had witnessed her father fighting a futile battle with Alzheimer’s. However, the couple's only son, whose identity remains protected, convinced her to visit one as her symptoms reached a stage where they couldn't be ignored any longer. In November 2022, she was officially with dementia, the family told BBC.

After Els learned her condition wouldn’t improve, the couple sat down with their son to discuss the possibilities of a duo-euthanasia.

Jan and Els approached a mobile euthanasia clinic - the Centre of Expertise on Euthanasia after their initial efforts failed. This supervised around 15% of assisted deaths last year in the Netherlands, reports said. By the time, the lady's dementia had advanced so much that she was even struggling to construct her senntences.

The Dutch authorities ensure that one partner isn’t influencing the other to die with him/her ahead of approving the request to die together. In the case of Jan Faber and Els van Leeningen, there were no complications as the decision was mutual. 

The couple’s best friends, brothers, daughter-in-law and son were in attendence at the clinic on Monday morning. They had their last family dinner together the previous night and it was difficult to hold back tears, the couple's son told BBC.

“We had two hours together, before the doctors came,” he told BBC. “We spoke about our memories… And we listened to music.” 

“The doctors arrived and everything happened quickly - they follow their routine, and then it’s just a matter of minutes,” he added.

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