Marc and Eddy Verbessem
Identical twins Marc and Eddy Verbessem chose euthanasia over going blind as they could bear the thought of not seeing each other.

Deaf identical twin brothers chose to end their lives by lethal injection after being told that they were going blind.

Marc and Eddy Verbessem of Putte near Antwerp, Belgium, had lived together and worked as cobblers their entire adult lives.

The devoted pair, who were born deaf, decided that they would rather die than never see each other again after being diagnosed with a genetic form of glaucoma, their family have revealed.

Despite objections from their older brother Dirk and their parents, Mary and Remy, the 45-year-old siblings applied for euthanasia under Belgian law and were granted the right to die.

Details of their story have just emerged.

It took two years for them to find a doctor willing to administer the fatal injection after they had their first requests to die refused in their local hospital by doctors who ruled that they were not suffering "unbearable pain".

Despite his objections, Dirk Verbessem has defended their decision. "Many will wonder why my brothers have opted for euthanasia because there are plenty of deaf and blind that have a 'normal' life," he said.

"But my brothers trudged from one disease to another. They were really worn out."

"It is certain that the twins met all the conditions for euthanasia," said Prof Wim Distelmans of Brussels University Hospital, the doctor performed the procedure.

The Verbessem brothers died at Brussels University Hospital on 14 December.

"They were very happy. It was a relief to see the end of their suffering," said Dr David Dufour, the family physician .

"They had a cup of coffee in the hall and a rich conversation. Then the separation from their parents and brother was very serene and beautiful."

He added: "At the last there was a little wave of their hands and then they were gone."

Belgium became the second country in the world to legalise euthanasia, in 2002.

Patients who seek euthanasia have to be consenting adults who can make their decision in "full conscience".