20-year-old from Fort St. John makes decision to get Medical Assistance in Dying

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Eric Coulam, 20, of Fort St. John has decided he's had enough of living a life of pain. Eric has chosen to receive Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).

"There'll be an end to suffering. I suffer all day long. I've been in a four walled room for a very long time and I've just had enough."

Eric has been battling an undiagnosed issue with his abdomen. He says when the pains first started, the doctor used a scope to search for the problem. A blockage was discovered but the doctor could not figure out why. It was two years ago where Eric's health took a turn for the worse. He needed emergency surgery to cut out part of his lower intestine after Eric went into septic shock due to it rupturing.

"I went in to emergency and got a bed right away and that night [it] ruptured and [I] got put in a coma for I can't remember how long."

Eric says doctors still could not figure out why his health was deteriorating. He was sent from Fort St. John to Dawson Creek, continued on to Grande Prairie, Edmonton, Vancouver, Vernon and Kelowna before returning back to Fort St John.

After 7 different hospitals, and continuing to battle frustration and pain, Eric says he decided to end his suffering. Doctors told Eric the only way he'd be able to return to full health would be receiving six different organ transplants, something Eric says has never been attempted before. He also said there was only a 50 per cent chance of getting better if he were to go through with the procedures. It was this information that Eric says ultimately factored into his decision to seek MAID.

"I thought about it for a while, I kind of ghosted my family because I wasn't in a good place. I knew it was what I wanted to do. It was hard to tell everyone else."

When Eric did reveal publicly his decision to ask for MAID, he was overwhelmed by the amount of support. A Facebook page called Eric's Army became filled with love filled messages and posts from friends, family, and strangers hearing about his story and decision.

Eric and his family have a final goodbye bonfire and barbeque planned for Saturday, May 21. More information can be found on the Eric's Army Facebook page.

The idea began in Vernon as Eric said he had a fire there with a small group of close friends and family. He wanted to do something similar at home in Fort St. John and made the plans with his dad, but the number of people invited continues to grow.

"Me and Dad were just going to have a fire with a few people and it exploded and there's like 600 people."

Eric says he will ultimately decide when to officially end his life. He has not chosen a specific date and it will be his choice when he has done certain things and seen specific people before saying his final goodbye.

"I can go when I'm ready, it's not when I'm sick, it's not when they pull my meds or anything, it's when I'm ready."