A woman who spent the last few years of her life fighting for the right to die has been given her final wish after travelling to an assisted-dying clinic in Switzerland.
Dawn Voice-Cooper was surrounded by her friends while she sipped champagne, had a last cigarette and listened to her favourite song for the final time.
Facing a daily battle against a series of incurable health problems, including severe arthritis, brain bleeds and epilepsy, Dawn, 76, was determined to end her life on her own terms before the quality of her life, which she described as “at times unbearable”, deteriorated any further.
Her tearful last words to her emotional friends and the medical staff at her bedside were simply: “Thank you, thank you everyone.”
Minutes later she was dead, after receiving a fatal dose of barbiturates, reports the Mirror, which was invited along to cover her final journey.
The former mental health worker and mother of one had described her life as being the “endless, often difficult, and usually painful, daily management of several, incurable issues”.
She said: “People often tell me, ‘Oh you look fine, you look young, you’ve got a bit of a limp’. But they don’t know what’s really going on inside me, the pain and the difficulties – the daily management of my ailments and my injuries.”
Opponents of assisted dying fear any legalisation will push disabled and elderly people into ending their lives early out of fear of becoming a care burden.
But Dawn hoped that by sharing her journey she could show that rigorous safeguards can stop abuse.
The children’s writer, from Sevenoaks, Kent, began to consider assisted dying in 2017 and made her application to the Lifecircle clinic in Basel two years ago.
The application process required her to submit her medical history, explain her reasons for wanting an assisted death and prove she was mentally competent. Once in Switzerland, she was assessed by two doctors separately before being taken to the clinic.
Unlike the better-known Dignitas, where patients drink a lethal cocktail of medication, Lifecircle sets an IV drip which recipients operate themselves.
Inside the clinic, Dawn signed her own death certificate. She hugged her friends, fellow campaigners Alex Pandolfo and Miranda Tuckett, before a nurse positioned her bed in front of the window to look out at the trees.
“It’s beautiful here surrounded by the trees. I think it must be the most beautiful place to die,” she said.
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Lifecircle president Dr Erika Preisig asked Dawn four final questions on camera, to confirm she knew what she was doing and the consequences of taking the lethal drugs.
Then, listening to Nick Drake’s Day is Done, with her friends holding her hands, Dawn released a valve on the IV.
Following a police report, which takes place after every assisted death at Lifecircle, her body will be cremated and her ashes scattered by Dr Preisig.
Alex, who has early onset Alzheimer’s and who also plans to die at Lifecircle, said: “It was one of the most beautiful and loving deaths I have witnessed in contrast to the unacceptable and prolonged tortured deaths of my beloved mum and dad and the death my Alzheimer’s may bring to me.
“Dawn’s story and experience of both pain and then peace through the support of Lifecircle will be used as I continue to ask for an evidenced based parliamentary inquiry into humane voluntary assisted dying in the UK.”
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