A 51-year-old woman was supposed to die by legal euthanasia on Sunday morning—and become the first patient in Colombia to do so without an immediate terminal prognosis of less than six months to live. Instead, less than 48 hours before, Martha Sepúlveda Campo was told her procedure had been canceled by a Colombian medical committee. The decision, made based on the fact that Sepúlveda “has a high probability of expecting a life of more than 6 months,” came as a total surprise, according to her legal team. Sepúlveda had not been aware that health officials were meeting to review her case. Instead, she had been calmly preparing for the end, even canceling her phone plan.
Sepúlveda has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neurodegenerative sickness considered fatal. She can no longer walk without assistance. On Sunday, Sepúlveda’s son released several video statements, saying the reversal had only come after the “viralization” of his mother’s story. The Washington Post reported that the committee’s members made their decision in part due to recent news footage of Sepúlveda smiling and laughing while dining at a restaurant. According to NBC News, she had appeared happy precisely because of the permission she’d received to die. “I am calmer since the procedure was authorized,” she said. “I laugh more, I sleep more calmly.”