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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Jay Franklin accepted by Dignitas for assisted suicide

Bertha and Jay Franklin

Jay Franklin is a 35 year old man in a lot of pain.  You can see it in his eyes, dulled by his hopeless situation and heavy duty pain killers.  He's been through so much agony in his life, he's had enough, and wants out. Once you hear his story, you understand why.

He was born with congenital bowel disease and has had over 100 operations.  He struggles to keep food down without vomiting, and it goes almost straight through to a colostomy bag.  But the hardest thing is the chronic abdominal pain that even the strongest drugs can't kill and escape into sleep is sometimes impossible.

When doctors told him 5 years ago there was no hope of a transplant and his life continued to get harder, he contacted Dr Philip Nitschke, a man hated by the medical profession for dedicating his life to making euthanasia legal.  The doctor put him in touch with Dignitas, the assisted suicide clinic in Sweden who help those who qualify, to die assisted by qualified doctors and nurses.

But first, the Swiss courts require an in-depth medical report prepared by a psychiatrist to confirm that the patient is not simply depressed because of their condition, but capable of making a sound decision about ending their life.  It wasn't easy to get, a few psychiatrists who were approached refused once they knew what it was for.  But Jay now has that report and Dignitas has accepted his application.

But going to Sweden is not cheap and Jay and his mother have no money, so Dr Nitschke asked for donations.  So far they've raised around $8,000 but there's a lot more needed.

Jay wants his mother to be with him when he ends his life and because euthanasia is illegal in Australia, he's worried that she might be charged with assisting him, so that's why he's chosen the Dignitas option.

Right to Life Australia, Dr Katrina Haller said Jay needed better medical attention rather than directions on how to kill himself. What a compassionate person you are Dr Haller, it's people like you who help keep euthanasia illegal in this country.

Jay's mother is a very brave woman, some mothers would not entertain the idea of suicide for their child, no matter how sick they were but Bertha Franklin doesn't think that way. "I feel honoured in a way that he had the courage to confide in me and has not tried to hide this" she said.  "Of course it will be a dreadful thing, but it's too hard for him now, it's just too hard."

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