Views & Reviews Personal View

An assisted dying law might save me from a lingering and unpleasant death

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g4784 (Published 22 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4784
  1. Paul Ivor Chamberlain, patient, Walton-on-Thames
  1. paul.chamberlain{at}sky.com

Paul Ivor Chamberlain has motor neurone disease and explains why he backs Lord Falconer’s bill

I am a 67 year old retired chartered accountant. Almost four years ago I was diagnosed as having motor neurone disease, which lacks effective treatment and a cure. It is terminal and a particularly horrible way to die.

All my muscles have been affected, and I am on a ventilator for more than 20 hours a day. I will deteriorate until I am in a vegetative state, probably unable to communicate, and possibly fed through a tube in my stomach. Eventually my breathing muscles will cease completely and I will die.

I receive excellent care from my general practitioner and the local hospice. But no matter how good the palliative care, my death will be lingering and unpleasant. My wife and I are coping but we are in a lonely place, full of anxiety for the outcome of this dreadful disease that has separated us physically.

I would rather avoid the last few months of indignity and to have my family see me in a pitiful state. I joined the campaigning group Dignity in Dying, and support the assisted dying law in England and Wales, as proposed by Lord Falconer.1

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