History has been made in Australia as the first terminally ill patient has been granted permission to end their life using prescribed medication, just weeks after voluntary assisted dying was legalised in the state of Victoria.
A permit has reportedly been provided to one person, who remains unnamed, to undergo a medically assisted death, giving them the right to use a cocktail of approved drugs to end their life, the ABC reports.
No further details of the patient’s age or condition have been revealed with the Department of Health and Human Services simply confirming that the new model is working.
“The Victorian model for the voluntary assisted dying system is working,” a spokesperson said. “We know that doctors are talking to patients about voluntary assisted dying and are carrying out assessments.
“It is giving people at the end of their life a genuine and compassionate choice over the manner and timing of their death.”
The news comes just weeks after Victoria made history by finally legalising voluntary assisted dying, 18 months after the law was passed in state government in November 2017.
State Premier Daniel Andrews estimated last month that around one dozen people will access voluntary assisted dying in the first year, which will see patients being prescribed a medication which they then self-administer at a time and place of their own choosing.
Victoria is currently the only Aussie state or territory to have a voluntary assisted dying law in place, which will give anyone suffering from a terminal illness, who has less than six months to live, the right to end their life legally.
There are strict stipulations though and anyone who wishes to apply must be a Victorian resident, be aged 18 and over and have been assessed by two doctors to have a terminal illness with intolerable pain that will likely cause death within six months . However, in the case of neurodegenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease, the timeframe is extended to 12 months.
Applications must also be signed by two witnesses and, in a bid to avoid elderly patients being pressured, anyone named as a beneficiary of the person is not permitted to act as a witness.
Meanwhile New Zealanders are hoping to follow in the lead of their trans-Tasman neighbours with a grandad earlier this month expressing his hope that the process will be legalised in the country as his daughter admitted it’s “torture” seeing her 90-year-old dad in a constant state of distress.
Raymond Gough, has been battling with his health since May after falling ill with pneumonia and consequently suffering a heart attack which has left him in a dire condition, The New Zealand Herald reports. While he used to be fit and healthy, the grandfather’s health has plummeted with doctors claiming he is now too frail to undergo life-saving heart bypass surgery.
His condition has not only impacted his own life but that of his daughter Julie Marshall who said its been a “tough experience” for the whole family as they watch him slowly fade away.
“It’s torture seeing dad in distress, seeing him crying every day and that’s a tough experience for family,” she told The New Zealand Herald.
Currently in New Zealand it is illegal to help someone end their life, with politicians currently in the process of deciding whether or not residents with terminal illnesses should be able to opt for assisted dying.
Sharing his thoughts on the topic Raymond told The New Zealand Herald: “I believe that when a person reaches a terminal stage they should have the right to opt out, to say no, they don’t want to be here any longer.”