Toronto woman seeks assisted suicide amid struggle with long COVID

'My quality of life with this illness is almost nonexistent,' Thompson expressed in an interview. 'I don’t do anything. It is painfully boring. It’s profoundly isolating.'

Toronto woman seeks assisted suicide amid struggle with long COVID
CTV News
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In Toronto, 55-year-old Tracey Thompson faces a harrowing reality as her battle with long COVID has depleted her life savings and rendered her largely bedridden. This debilitating situation has led her to apply for Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) program, reflecting the severe impact of long COVID on individuals' lives.

Thompson, once an active professional chef, has been reduced to spending approximately 22 hours a day in bed since contracting COVID-19 in 2020. The comprehensive symptoms of long COVID have left her unable to perform basic daily activities such as cooking and reading, the Daily Mail reported.

The financial strain due to her inability to work has compounded her challenges, prompting her application to MAID in December 2022.

"My quality of life with this illness is almost nonexistent," Thompson expressed in an interview. “I don’t do anything. It is painfully boring. It’s profoundly isolating.”

Canada's MAID program, which initially focused on terminal patients, expanded its criteria a year after Thompson’s illness onset to include those suffering from irreparable and intolerable illnesses. Thompson's gradual health deterioration involves cognitive decline, respiratory difficulties, and severe energy depletion.

Thompson’s diet now primarily consists of medication and meal replacement shakes, as she developed sensitivities to various foods. The most activity she can manage is an occasional walk around the block and brief periods sitting up. This dramatic lifestyle shift has exhausted her financial resources, spent on housing, food, and costly medical care.

Beyond long COVID, Thompson has been diagnosed with multiple related conditions, including myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome), postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), and mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS). Despite these challenges, she affirms her love for life, citing small daily joys that remain meaningful to her.

Thompson’s case highlights the broader debate surrounding Canada's MAID program, which has been subject to scrutiny and controversy, particularly with discussions to extend eligibility to terminally ill minors. The program has seen a significant number of assisted deaths, with over 13,200 cases in 2022, accounting for 4.1% of all deaths in the country.

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  • By Sheila Gunn Reid

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