Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Father demands change in ASSISTED SUICIDE law after son's cancer death

A father whose son died from bowel, liver and lung cancer has demanded that people be given the right to end their life in Britain.

Simon Bray, 54, died in the arms of his wife and father yesterday afternoon after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer more than a year ago.

The father-of-two's death, at the Martlets Hospice in Hove, East Sussex, occurred on the day the BBC screened a controversial documentary on assisted suicide, presented by Sir Terry Pratchett.

Mr Bray's father, John Bray, who has not yet seen the film, welcomed the debate the programme sparked, saying opponents of assisted suicide fail to understand what most terminally ill people endure.

He said his son – an industrial sculptor – had a wretched existence before he was admitted to the hospice as he turned from being a loving, active, well-travelled family man to "a skeleton with veins".

Opponents of assisted suicide should see for themselves the torment those who desire a quick release from their suffering go through, his father said.

Mr Bray, 78, said: "I do feel the debate on assisted suicide in this country has to be opened up because my son was in the most awful state.

"If they want to go, let them. Don't stand in their way. It has been a nightmare for us because he was the most beautiful boy but at the end he was like a skeleton with veins.

"He had got a tumour in his bowel which made it agonisingly painful for him, he had three tumours on his liver and two tumours on his lungs.

"He had the most horrific time of it until he went into the hospice." Mr Bray, who lives in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, said he would not want to see a Dignitas-style clinic in the UK.

But he believes people with terminal illnesses in this country should be given the choice to end their life in a way they choose themselves.

"Critics will say that relatives will want to bump off the old people if we bring in legalised assisted suicide but I don't think that's true," said Mr Bray.

His son had begged him to take him to Dignitas to end his suffering but Mr Bray said he was struck by the sheer level of form-filling involved in the process.

Last week he asked for his eyes to be donated to a cornea unit in East Grinstead but was turned down because he had less than six months since his last tranche of chemotherapy.

His son then asked for the necessary forms to enable him to donate his body to medical science, like his grandfather had done following his death in 1981.

But by then he was too weak to sign the forms.

Mr Bray said: "A dying man was thus refused three of his five requests and I feel strongly that those who, for whatever reason, oppose assisted death should see for themselves exactly what torment those who desire a speedy release from their suffering actually go through."

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