Assisted Dying 1: delayed approval for safeguarded assisted dying

With thanks to Dr Kishen Shanker, who sent news that led PCU to search further. 

Inside Surgery gives a link to a UK Press Association report that Sir Terence English, who performed the UK’s first heart transplant, has offered his support to a steering committee which backs assisted dying.

Sir Terence, a former president of the Royal College of Surgeons and the British Medical Association, performed the UK’s first successful heart transplant in 1979.

He has now spoken in support of a patient’s right to die and has stated that he would be willing to assist a patient who wanted to terminate their life:

‘Sir Terence told The Sunday Times: “A doctor has responsibility first to the patient and, if I knew that patient was terminally ill, was of sound mind and hadn’t been got at by friends and relatives, I would be prepared to assist him or her.”

He specified safeguards in medical assessment of such cases which should be undertaken by doctors:

  • who have not been involved with the patient in question
  • who have been registered for five years
  • who would confirm that the patient is sound of mind
  • who can show that no pressure has been put on him or her by the family
  • and who will involve a psychologist in the assessment if at all doubtful. 

He  has now joined the Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying [HPAD] group.

Dr Ann McPherson, who founded HPAD explains:

“I am dying of pancreatic cancer. I wish I wasn’t. But dying isn’t a failure on my part, it is part of life. I wish to live as long as possible, but not at the expense of enduring an undignified death.

In the final days or weeks of my life, if I consider my suffering to be unbearable, I would like the choice to die at home at a time of my choosing surrounded by my loved ones.

Dr Shanker sent a copy of the letter he wrote to the Sunday Times in response to an article: Heart-swap expert willing to aid suicide, by Sarah-Kate Templeton, Sunday 9th January.

It ended:

“With the safeguards proposed by [Sir Terence English] a person will be able to make a decision of his own will without any extraneous pressure on him.

”I quote from the modern Hippocratic oath written in1964 by Louis Lasagna and now used in many medical schools of medicine:

“most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death, if it is given me to save a life, all thanks, but it may also be within my power to take life, this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own faults”.

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Posted on January 31, 2011, in uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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