Consuela Cordoba was injured in a horrific acid attack seventeen years ago and planned her own death by euthanasia, but changed her mind after a meeting with Pope Francis last week.
Consuela Cordoba, 57, is a native of Istmina in the Colombian department of Chocó. Seventeen years ago, Consuela was injured when her ex-boyfriend Dagoberto Esuncho threw caustic acid all over her body, resulting in scarring and disfigurement. Her attacker ended up only spending a meager thirty days in prison despite the severity of his crimes.
Despite undergoing a total 87 surgical operations, she still has to wear a mesh body suit at all times with tubes in her nostrils to breathe, able to eat only liquid foods through a straw. In a 2012 NPR interview given by Consuela on the rising prevalence of acid attacks in Colombia, she said:
“I had perfect teeth, I was very pretty. But now, I’m destroyed. I’ve thought about committing suicide, yes sir, I’ve thought about taking my life three times. I say to myself, why live? With a life like the one I have, what for?”
In Colombia, assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal under specific circumstances and with doctor’s orders. Cordoba says the last straw that led her to make the decision to end her life was a recently diagnosed brain infection. The date was set, September 29th was the day Doctor Gustavo Quinonez would give her the injection to end her life. She had even planned her own burial.
However, everything changed for Cordoba when she went to see the Supreme Pontiff during his visits to Colombia. She was chosen from the crowd for a personal audience with Pope Francis. During their conversation, she asked for the pope’s blessing and permission to kill herself. His answer astonished her and changed her life. Cordoba said that:
“He said, ‘No,’ he was not going to do it. He told me that I was very brave and very pretty. That changed my life. Now I want to live. Dr Gustavo Quinonez was going to give me the injection, but I’m not going to do it because God is going to bring greatness to my life. So that I do not die, they will donate for the surgery that I need, which will cost several million pesos. I am going to tell Dr Gustavo thank you very much for your injection, but it is for another.”
Immediately after meeting with Pope Francis, she called to cancel her appointment on September 29th.