A 77-year-old brain-dead South Korean woman died on Sunday more than 200 days after being taken off life support, in the country's first case of legal euthanasia, officials said.
Severance Hospital in Seoul said the woman, identified only by her family name, Kim, was pronounced dead in the afternoon, 202 days after her life support was removed in accordance with her family's wishes and a court order.
AdvertisementShe had continued breathing on her own after her respirator was removed on June 23, according to the hospital, which had opposed the court order.
"The respirator... could have extended her life. I believe that its removal shortened her life," said Park Chang-Il, medical doctor and president of Yonsei University Health System, which runs Severance Hospital.
Her case had stoked public debate over a person's right to "die with dignity" in South Korea.
The patient was declared brain-dead in February 2008, after she fell into a coma while undergoing a lung examination.
Three months later her children filed a court petition after the hospital rejected their request to remove the life support system.
Her children said that artificially prolonging her life when she was brain-dead was "painful and meaningless".
A court in December 2008 approved the family's request, saying the patient had no chance of recovery and that her wish to die could be inferred.
The hospital appealed, but the Supreme Court upheld the lower court's decision in favour of the children in May last year.