Terminally ill child becomes first minor to be granted euthanasia in Belgium

Legislation in the country allows for the medically assisted death of children of any age

Terminally ill child becomes first minor to be granted euthanasia in Belgium

File photo. Image: Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP/Press Association Images

In Belgium, a terminally ill child is reported to have become the first to be euthanised under new legislation.

The country's euthanasia age restrictions were lifted in 2014 following heated debate over the issue.

It is the only country in the world that allows the medically assisted death of children of any age.

Similar legislation in the Netherlands requires the child to be over 12.

In Belgium the procedure can only happen if the children are in the last stages of an incurable disease.

It applies only to 'exceptional and hopeless' cases where the child is "in great pain, with no available treatment".

A child must make the euthanasia request themselves, and permission can only be granted following a thorough medical & psychological examination and parental consent.

Het Nieuwsblad reports that it is not known what age or sex the child who died was.

Speaking to the newspaper, Professor Wim Distelmans of Belgium's euthanasia control commission confirmed the death.

He said: "Fortunately, there are very few children who qualify - but that does not mean we should deny them the right to a dignified death."