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Geoffrey Derrick, Coralie's father

Father loved to do practical things and that included building houses.  At the time fibro was a popular choice for internal and external wall covering. Unfortunately its side effect was asbestosis. My father’s lungs were shot to pieces and when he reached the age of 72, fluid built up in those lungs and he was in excruciating pain. I took him to have blood tests and X-rays and finally the doctor said to take the x-rays to Westmead to have them read.

My father had had enough.  He was terrified of dying like a lot of his friends and on this night he decided to take his own life. He used a shot gun to his right temple. It did not kill him immediately; his brain was shot to pieces as the bullet ricocheted within his skull.  The events that followed were harrowing; ringing the ambulance, the intensive care ambulance, and the Police as a gun had been discharged, and all the events that had to follow.  He was taken to Westmead Hospital and was given medication, oxygen and tube feeding.  Then they wanted to perform a tracheotomy on him.

I was appalled...I said he wanted to go, just let him go...but no that wasn’t what they wanted to do.

I checked for myself to see how his wishes should be carried out. I found out that I could have his medication stopped.

I told the registrar that was what I wanted. He said “What more would you like...cut the oxygen and the food?”.  I said no, just the medication. He came back later and said he checked and that it was within my rights to refuse medication.

It took a week for my father to eventually pass away; at least he was finally at peace. I was traumatised for the next 10 years over all this, but now I can at least tell this story. Voluntary Euthanasia would have been the answer.

Coralie Richmond, July 2017

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