14-year-old suffering from fatal disease makes decision to end life

- A 14-year-old girl is living out her summer dreams after choosing hospice over surgery and telling her mother that she is ready to die. Jerika Bolen, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2— which is often fatal for patients in adolescence— is in constant chronic pain, the Post-Crescent reported.

“When I decided, I felt extremely happy and sad at the same time,” Bolen, of Appleton, Wisc., told Post-Crescent. “There were a lot of tears, but then I realized I’m going to be in a better place, and I’m not going to be in this terrible pain. I’ve been working on it and thinking about it for way longer than anyone else has.”

Bolen uses a power wheelchair and has control over her brain, eyes, nose and mouth but has trouble swallowing. She has slight control over her hands and arms but relies on constant care for everything else and uses a ventilator to breathe for 12 hours per day. She’s had more than 30 surgeries since being diagnosed at just eight months old, with her muscles further deteriorating after each procedure. The medication she takes to keep the pain at a level 8 out of 10 has also damaged her body, the Post-Crescent reported.

At the end of August, Jerika has instructed her mother, Jen Bolen, to pull the plug on the ventilator. Neither know how long it will be before she dies, but Jen hopes that it’s not too many days. She told the Post-Crescent that she has had to explain the difference between assisted suicide and her daughter’s decision to many people.

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