Remy Salvat

Rémy Salvat (August 21, 1984 – August 10, 2008) is a young French man with a serious illness whose suicide in August 2008 has revived the debate on euthanasia in France .


Rémy Salvat committed suicide by drug overdose the night of 9 to 10 August 2008. It would be 24 years 1 . He had been infected since the age of six with a mitochondrial disease (rare degenerative disease) of slow but inexorable evolution.

In May 2008, he wrote a letter 2 the President of the Republic Nicolas Sarkozy to demand the right to euthanasia when his illness would make the “prisoner of his body” brain destroyed 3 , 4 . During a report filmed by the director Marie-Pierre Raimbault’s camera, the young man read and signed this letter. This report was broadcast during the program “Cellule de crise – Handicap: investigation into a French scandal” on France 2 in September 2008 5 .

Extracts from the letter addressed to the Presidency:

  • “Like Vincent Humbert , I ask at this moment to allow me to die to free myself from my sufferings. ” Wrote Rémy Salvat in his letter.
  • “I know that in France, there is no law that allows medical teams to practice euthanasia. This prevents me from living in peace … The law must change! ” He added.
  • “The problem is that you, Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, do not want to hear about it. Me, Rémy Salvat, I ask you to leave aside your personal opinion and stop being deaf. You can if you are the President of all the French, ” he concluded.

On August 6, the young man received a response from the head of state 6 .

  • “For personal philosophical reasons, I believe it is not our right, we have no right, to voluntarily interrupt life,” said the president, adding:
  • “But I do not want to run away from my responsibilities … I would like privileged dialogue at the bedside of the patient, between himself, the doctor and the family, in all humanity so that the solution best suited to each situation . “

Rémy Salvat was killed by overdose of drugs on the night of August 9-10, 2008. His funeral at the church of Valmondois, on August 14, 2008, caused a lively emotion: the body of the young man had been seized the day before the ceremony due to the opening of an investigation on the causes of death 7 .

Rémy Salvat’s last wishes

On a K7-audio recording (seized by the prosecutor’s office), Rémy Salvat asked that “the debate on euthanasia should not be thrown into the water” and that “the fight for assisted suicide continues” 8 . Her mother, a medical biologist, has since participated in programs and debates on the theme of euthanasia and the end of life. It wishes to inform of the requests for the right to euthanasia formulated by many patients in France. It recalled the need to resume a debate which it considered to have avoided since the promulgation of the Léonetti law in 2005 9 .

Aïkidoka, Remy also asked that his ashes be dispersed in Japan, the homeland of the founder of Aikido , Master Morihei Ueshiba . In June 2009, his parents made a pilgrimage to the Kii peninsula (Japan – Tanabé) on the Kumano Kodo road. A ceremony in memory of their son was celebrated onat Mount Koya San, Mecca of Buddhism Shingon traditional. A monument in memory of the young man is kept in the temple of the monastery Eko-in in Koyasan 10 .

The disease

It was in 2000, after a diagnostic wandering of nearly 10 years, that the disease could be confirmed as mitochondrial 11 .

At the age of 16 years, the young boy presented the clinical signs of an acronym syndrome SANDO ( Cerebellar Ataxia Syndrome , Peripheral Neuropathies , Dysarthria, and External Ophthalmoplegia) 12with central nervous system involvement ( leukodystrophy, thalamic lesions etc. in 2005, thanks to advances in genetics, mutation responsible for the disease has been identified. it concerns the gene POLG (polymerase Gamma, mitochondrial enzyme) located on chromosome 15 (15q25) 13 .

This mutation is observed in the Alpers syndrome ( Alpers’ disease  (en) ) 14 , Ataxia and OPE (external ophthalmoplegia) syndromes. The expression of this mutation took the most serious form in the young Rémy Salvat. He would not only be tetraplegic but his central nervous system would be destroyed without major damage to vital organs such as the heart. Thus the young man could have been kept alive for years on artificial feeding what he did not wish 15 .


  • The book A story stand 10 Éditions JC Lattes (published February 9, 2011 – author Régine Salvat, medical biologist) 16 traces the career of the young man.


  1. A new drama revives the debate on euthanasia [ archive ] , Le Figaro , 14 August 2008
  2. Letter to the Presidency – Rémy Salvat – May 24, 2008 [ archive ]
  3. Rémy Salvat, young handicapped, committed suicide  [ archive ] L’Humanité , August 13, 2008.
  4. Rémy Salvat, how many dead before … – Agoravox – Francis August 16, 2008 [ archive ]
  5. Crisis Cell – Investigation into a French scandal – Le Parisien-September 10, 2008 [ archive ]
  6. A young man commits suicide after a request for euthanasia – Presidential answer – L’Express – August 13, 2008 [ archive ]
  7. The funeral of Rémy Salvat carried by emotion and hope- Post-14 August 2008 [ archive ]
  8. Rémy Salvat has not dropped the 22, 2008 [ archive ]
  9. A story stand Edts JC Lattes Section A Promethean paradigm
  10. a and b “A Standing Story” – Epilogue page 292-293 [ archive ] Edts JC Lattès, February 9, 2011
  11. ↑ Alliance Rare Diseases – Proceedings of the Forum of April 26, 2002-Speaking Association Action Rémy
  12. Mitochondrial Cytopathies – Neurology CHU Angers [ archive ]
  13. A Standing Story – Chapter “The Speech of One Hand” pages 264-265
  14. ↑ ( en ) “Orphanet-Alpers Syndrome-Prof. RKNaviaux-July 2006  [ archive ]
  15. ↑ Letter to the Presidency of 24 May 2008
  16. The book not to be missed-Emmanuelle Dal’Secco-09 February 2011 [ archive ]