Fulfilling Wishes for the Terminally Ill

Driving to the ocean, attending family celebrations, or visiting a beloved place from childhood sound like straightforward, everyday activities. However, for patients at the final stage of illness, such activities are often frustratingly impossible to accomplish.

Palliative care and end-of-life support can provide comfort and enjoyment during a patient’s final years. However, special care requirements often bind terminally ill adults to their beds. Without the ability to navigate complex logistics needed to leave their hospital rooms, their last wishes may remain unfulfilled.

Enter l’Ambulance des Rêves, or “Ambulance of Dreams,” an organization that performs small miracles for people at the end of their lives. By providing ambulances and medical personnel, the nonprofit enables seriously ill adults to leave their place of care and realize their final wish. A team of doctors, paramedics, nurses, and ambulance drivers accompanies patients on their special day, with appropriate transportation, medical equipment, accommodation, and/or catering, depending on the dream, all arranged beforehand.

“We are grateful to Latham & Watkins for their assistance, their empathy, and their dedication to helping fulfill our clients’ wishes and making their dreams come true.”

Clara Brachet, Co-Founder, l’Ambulance des Rêves

A Paris-based team is advising on the structuring of l’Ambulance des Rêves and the formalization of its key partnerships. This work has proven surprisingly complex, as the nonprofit is the first of its kind in France. Our lawyers are helping to resolve legal and regulatory complications for transporting medical equipment; mitigating liabilities around patient safety, data privacy, and nursing assistance; and addressing issues linked to the regulatory status of ambulance drivers in France.

Ultimately, the nonprofit seeks to provide bedridden and terminally ill patients, their families, and their caregivers with a positive end-of-life memory. Fulfilling a long-held dream has been shown to have many positive outcomes, including increasing patient confidence, restoring a sense of normalcy, and fostering better communication among patients and care teams.

“We are grateful to Latham & Watkins for their assistance, their empathy, and their dedication to helping fulfill our clients’ wishes and making their dreams come true,” said Clara Brachet, who co-founded l’Ambulance des Rêves.

The concept of enabling immobilized adults to enjoy experiences that would otherwise be inaccessible came into existence through Dutch charity Stichting Ambulance Wens, which has already fulfilled more than 14,000 dreams. L’Ambulance des Rêves sees similar potential across France. The organization has enlisted approximately 20 volunteers in Paris and Île-de-France, who are in the early stages of collaborating with the palliative care unit at the Croix Saint Simon-Diaconesses hospital group as well as with a Parisian ambulance company, with a view to increasing collaborations in the near future.

The comprehensive framework negotiated by our lawyers will hopefully enable l’Ambulance des Rêves to form partnerships with several hospitals and ambulance providers in France, further expanding its reach and ability to make final wishes come true for those in their last stage of life. The Latham team continues to assist with drafting new contracts and policies to mitigate legal risks and to try to reduce legal and political barriers to these kinds of activities.

“The founders and volunteers of l’Ambulance des Rêves go to extraordinary lengths to brighten the lives of patients and their loved ones during the most difficult and darkest times,” explained counsel Thomas Doyen, who helps advise the nonprofit. “Pro bono work can change you, challenge you, and upend your beliefs. Working for clients like this one makes us better legal advocates and better people.”