French man in vegetative state dies after food and water was removed against parents' will

(Photo: Pixabay)

The disabled man at the heart of a national debate in France about the right to die has passed away after his food and water were removed. 

Doctors withdrew the water and feeding tubes from Vincent Lambert, 42, just over a week ago against the will of his parents.  He died of starvation and dehyrdration on Thursday morning. 

Lambert had been in a vegetative state for the last 11 years following a motorcycle accident.  A protracted court battle over his medical care ensued, with his own family divided over how he should be cared for. 

His parents and two of his siblings objected to the withdrawal of nourishment and spent years trying to save his life in the courts.

Others in the family, including his wife and nephew, supported the move. 

His nephew Francois told reporters: "Now I hope he can rest in peace.

"Vincent was in a vegetative state, he wouldn't want to live that way. In respect for him, it was not right to keep him alive in these conditions," he said. 

"We were ready to let him go," he continued. 

"It is not sad. It is rationality gaining the upper hand. This was a human being who was suffering and the various theatrical gestures did not mean much." 

Doctors removed the feeding and hydration tubes after the Court of Cassation in France overturned on July 2 an earlier appeal court ruling.  His parents were told there were no further avenues for appeal and said on Monday that they were "resigned" to his death. 

Following news of Lambert's passing, Pope Francis suggested on Twitter that society should not embrace the right to die but value every life. 

"May God the Father welcome into His arms Vincent Lambert," Pope Francis tweeted.

"Let's not build a civilization which eliminates persons whose life we think is no longer worthy of being lived: every life has value, always."