Husband reveals his wife's final words before she died at Dignitas

‘I cannot go on’: Husband chokes back tears as he reveals wife’s final words describing how MS had robbed her life of enjoyment and left her wanting to die – before travelling to Dignitas

A widower choked back the tears today as he read out live on air his wife’s final words explaining why she decided to travel to Dignitas.

BBC Radio 4 Today listener David Sowry recently accompanied his wife Christy – who was diagnosed with the neurological disease multiple sclerosis (MS) – to help end her life at the assisted dying clinic in Switzerland.

During the interview, Mr Sowry read the final letter his wife had penned to friends and family, explaining why she had chosen to end her life.

In it Mrs Sowry explained how her MS had been ‘rapidly and frantically worsening’ meaning she could no longer go on, adding ‘there is almost nothing left I can do for myself’.

Earlier this week, Dame Esther Rantzen, 83, revealed she was considering going to Dignitas if treatment for her stage four lung cancer failed.

Her revelation has triggered a public debate and renewed calls for the Government to hold a free vote on legalising assisted dying. 

It comes as Dame Esther Rantezen, 83, called for a free vote on assisted dying, revealing she is considering travelling to Dignitas. Pictured: Dame Esther earlier this year 

BBC Radio 4 Today listener David Sowry spoke of his wife choosing to die at the assisted-dying clinic Dignitas near Zurich, Switzerland (pictured) 

Dame Esther said that she had discussed the issue with her family and they had told her it was her ‘decision’ and ‘choice’. Pictured: Rebecca Wilcox with her children and mother, Dame Esther 

In the letter, Mrs Sowry said: ‘My only role in life will soon to be a full-time invalid. I don’t want to be invalid, and therefore I don’t want to be.

‘All this has meant is giving up my rich and full life bit by bit, so please don’t judge me harshly for making this decision to bring the curtain down.’

READ ALSO: Minister says he is ‘not averse’ to new assisted dying debate after Dame Esther Rantzen revealed she is considering going to Dignitas if her stage four lung cancer worsens

Mr Sowry said he wanted to see another another free vote in Parliament on legalising assisting dying.

The last free vote on the issue was held in 2015 – and saw MPs overwhelmingly reject it.

He told the BBC’s Nick Robinson: ‘The pain she was having was mainly neuropathic pain which does not tend to be treated very well with drugs. 

‘The only option that seemed available to her was, as suggested by the care team, was have morphine. 

‘Given that she was so physically disabled the last thing she wanted to do was live her life in a drug induced fog, loosing her intellect, her ability to talk to people.

‘I do want to see in a change in the law. ‘The campaign group My Death My Decision proposes changes that cater for two groups of people – those with terminal illnesses and those facing a long decline in increasing disability often described as unbearable pain.’

Others within the medical profession, however, have insisted the focus should be on improving palliative care options.

Dr John Sorrell, a retired GP whose wife died from Parkinson’s disease, said he felt doctors ‘would find it very hard to end somebody’s life, as is the case at Dignitas’.

Dame Esther Rantzen will consider going to Dignitas to end her life should her next scan show she is getting worse

Dame Esther explained to her family that she didn’t ‘want their last memories of me to be painful because if you watch someone you love having a bad death, that memory obliterates all the happy times’

A Medicine bottle at Dignitas Clinic. Patients must administer the fatal dose themselves and convince doctors they want to kill themselves

Yesterday her daughter, Rebecca Wilcox, spoke of how her family reacted to such an emotional decision

He told the BBC: ‘I felt we could always keep our patients comfortable. Sadly the NHS is struggling to do this on a universal basis at the moment. 

READ ALSO: Inside Dignitas where terminally ill patients pay £20,000 to end their lives as Esther Rantzen reveals she has joined the assisted dying clinic

‘It’s a resource issue – luckily with my wife we were able to look after her at home comfortably without pain and distress.’

Expressing concerns about calls to legalise assisted dying he added: ‘There are vulnerable people and they can be coerced. It could be seen as an easy way out or less money.’

Assisted suicide is currently banned in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, holding a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. A bill to make assisted dying legal failed to pass in 2015.

Earlier this week Dame Esther, 83, revealed that she planned to ‘buzz off to Zurich’, where assisted dying is legal, if new medication to treat her cancer stopped working. 

She explained that she had joined the Swiss-assisted dying clinic Dignitas and called for a free vote on assisted dying as it’s ‘important that the law catches up with what the country wants’. 

The Childline founder said: ‘I have in my brain though, well, if the next scan says nothing’s working I might buzz off to Zurich but, you know, it puts my family and friends in a difficult position because they would want to go with me. 

‘And that means that the police might prosecute them. So we’ve got to do something. At the moment, it’s not really working, is it?’

The Headquarters of Dignitas, in the town of Pfaffikon, Switzerland, near Zurich

Mrs Sowry said the pain from multiple sclerosis (MS) had become too much and was affecting her mobility. Pictured: A bed in the clinic Dignitas assisted suicide clinic

Dame Esther married Desmond Wilcox, a fellow journalist, in 1977. The couple had three children together, Miriam, Rebecca, and Josh, before Desmond died from heart disease in September 2000 aged 69

Dame Esther said that she had discussed the issue with her family and they had told her it was her ‘decision’ and ‘choice’.

READ HERE: Dame Esther Rantzen reveals she is considering going to Dignitas if her lung cancer worsens: Childline founder, 83, says she doesn’t want family to see her have a ‘bad death’ which would ‘obliterate the happy times’ – and is awaiting scan results

The broadcaster continued: ‘I explained to them that actually I don’t want their last memories of me to be painful because if you watch someone you love having a bad death, that memory obliterates all the happy times and I don’t want that to happen.

‘I don’t want to be that sort of victim in their lives.’

A day later, the broadcaster’s daughter spoke of how she would ‘want to ground the plane’ if her mother decided to fly to Dignitas. 

Rebecca Wilcox told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘She never makes a decision in complete isolation, but she doesn’t care what anyone else says.

‘It’s horrific and she always promised us she would live forever. She’s not usually one to break her promises so we’re a little upset about that.

‘I would personally want to ground her plane if she was going to fly to Zurich but I know it’s her decision. I just don’t ever want her to go.’

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the Government position has not changed so it remains a matter for Parliament to decide.

They reiterated it is ‘an issue of conscience for individual parliamentarians rather than Government policy – as it was in 2015 when the House considered it and rejected making any changes’.

Dame Esther Rantezen said she is considering to go to Dignitas this week, as she called for a free vote on making assisted dying legal

Tory MP Mel Stride has said he is ‘not averse’ to another parliamentary vote on assisted dying.

While the Work and Pensions Secretary made clear that the Government would not bring forward fresh legislation on the issue, he signaled that he would be happy to debate it further. 

Mr Stride, who was one of 27 Conservative MPs to vote in favour of the legislation eight years ago, said it was ‘one of the most delicate, balanced and difficult’ he has made as an MP.

READ ALSO: Inside Dignitas where terminally ill patients pay £20,000 to end their lives as Esther Rantzen reveals she has joined the assisted dying clinic

The minister, who was elected in 2010, told the Today Programme: ‘The government has not decided to bring forward legislation, I think I need to make that very clear. 

‘But if Parliament in some form or another decided that it wanted to have a fresh look at this, given it was some years ago that we last did so, that’s not something that I would be resistant to.’ 

Another Tory MP Alicia Kearns has called for another vote on legalising assisted dying.

Tweeting after Dame Esther revealed her plan, the MP for Rutland and Melton said: ‘Dame Esther is absolutely right, Parliament needs to have a vote on assisted dying, and it needs to be a free vote.’

She said there had been a ‘fundamental shift in the country’ and ‘in parliament’ since 2015.

Ms Kearns told the BBC: ‘Since I was elected we’ve had a number of debates on this and you can barely get a chance to speak.

‘The amount of my colleagues who say I’ve reflected, I’ve changed my views… I really do think that the national conversation has changed.’ 

Levelling Up minister Michael Gove also thought it would be ‘appropriate’ to ‘revist’ the issue in the Commons, despite not being personally persuaded. 

He said yesterday: ‘I am not yet persuaded of the case for assisted dying but I do think it’s appropriate for the Commons to revisit this. 

‘I think it was in the last Parliament that we had a debate on it and as I say, I am not yet persuaded but I would want to listen with humility to Dame Esther and others outline the case.’

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