SA grandmother says final goodbye as voluntary euthanasia program begins
Denise Wyatt is described by her children as “the life of the party” and always “the last one dancing”. But when she was diagnosed with a rare progressive brain disorder, her grandmother told her family she wanted to die on her own terms.
“I knew what she was getting at. We knew what the final was going to be like,” said her daughter, Amanda Hancock.
When Wyatt was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease in 2017, her daughter said she was quick to refuse, couldn’t swallow and weighed just 40kg.
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“She told everyone who came to see her, ‘I want to die,'” Hancock said.
“She lived life to the fullest. She had an amazing life. She wanted to die with dignity.”
Patients with this disease slowly lose their independence and typically live up to 25 years after diagnosis.
Hancock said it was important to her mother that she not wait to lose her independence.
Wyatt died on 12 March 2023 at the age of 75 and is one of six people who have benefited from South Australia’s voluntary euthanasia program since its inception.
The family celebrated their lives in a farewell where they could all say goodbye.
“By the end she was very worried, very upset and almost begging for this to happen,” her daughter said.
“My last call to the Pathway was, ‘My mother will starve if this isn’t done sooner rather than later.'”
SA’s euthanasia program begins
South Australians have had access to voluntary euthanasia since January 31, 2023, and since then 35 people have made an initial application to initiate the process. Thirteen permits were issued by SA Health.
44 doctors have completed the compulsory training and a further 69 have registered.
The program has strict eligibility requirements, including a life expectancy of six months for a terminal illness or up to a year for neurodegenerative diseases.
Opponents of the program feared the safeguards could be ignored or relaxed in the future.
“Euthanasia is not the only option. We need to make sure there is enough funding for palliative care to keep it a viable option for people,” Liberal MLC Dennis Hood said.
Hancock said her family was happy with the program, even though it was newly introduced.
“The people we have behind the scenes are fantastic,” she said.
“[It was]very clear, very concise. From the very first conversation, from the beginning to the day my mother died, everything was great.”
https://7news.com.au/news/sa/sa-grandmother-says-final-goodbye-as-voluntary-assisted-dying-program-begins-c-10143064 SA grandmother says final goodbye as voluntary euthanasia program begins