‘Irreversible complications’ from fasting after 40 to 45 days, says head expert
Doctor Terés leads a commission of doctors in support of the medics taking care of jailed leaders
“If the hunger strike persists, the worst scenario begins at about 40 to 45 days fasting,” said Doctor Terés, head expert of a doctor’s committee on the subject. This is when, according to him, the risk of “irreversible complications, and even death, become higher.” Then, past 60 days, it’s “unusual to survive.”
Terés leads a group of physicians supporting the team of medics currently attending to the four jailed former Catalan ministers on hunger strike, some of whom have gone without food for over 10 days already. Jordi Sánchez, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Joaquim Forn are protesting against what they see as an unfair trial against them, and are especially concerned because Spain's Constitutional Court, they say, is delaying a decision on their appeals to be released, to avoid those reaching European Courts.
So far, some of the leaders are on day 11 of the protest. They’ve so-far been temporarily joined in solidarity for 24 hours by some MPs and 48 hours by the Catalan president, and in interviews to the press one of those on hunger strike explained that he feels like he’s “floating.” Yet, by day 40 to 45 Terés warns those participating may lose their decision-making capacity. This is when doctors would ask – depending on the vital testimony they signed.
The jailed leaders signed a vital testimony, which the doctor explained is “confidential” for the moment, in which they explain their “wishes” in the case of “loss of cognitive capacities and, inasmuch, decision-making capacities.” Terés explained that one must “never” force someone to eat food – except if the document they signed state the contrary. “Force-feeding is ethically unacceptable, and it´s qualified as torture by the European Court of Human Rights,” said the physician.
Indeed, in the year 2000 the first law of autonomy to the ill was approved in Catalonia, which “obliges to respect the will of the ill above all else.” Inasmuch, the doctor explained the legal situation is different from earlier cases from decades before, when people on hunger strike were forced to eat.
The commission led by Doctor Terés “was created this in order to give support to all professionals who have to take care of the patients in this situation in the prison,” clarified the physician. Indeed, he added that moreover, the team is there to “protect them,” explaining that “in these situations, criticism and ethical and deontological problems are frequent, regards feeding people on hunger strike.”