A terminally ill pensioner has complained that he is being denied his “dignity” due to the huge sums required to travel to Switzerland to partake in assisted suicide. Tim Wardle, 84, told The Mirror that he is determined to end his life on his own terms but that the extortionate £10,000 travel fee to Swiss centre Dignitas was preventing him from fulfilling his wish. Calling for an urgent law change in Britain as MPs carry out a parliamentary inquiry into assisted dying, he described the current approach to death as “Victorian”.
Mr Wardle, a father of three from Newton Abbot, Devon, was diagnosed last year with terminal kidney cancer.
The retired architect, after losing his grandfather, mother and two sisters to cancer, has refused “intrusive procedures” to alleviate the pain caused by his illness.
He said he wishes to travel to Switzerland to be assisted in his own death to avoid the same fate as his late sister, who after months of battling the terminal disease, “ended up looking like someone who had come out of one of the Nazi concentration camps”.
The 84-year-old told The Mirror: “I would go if I could afford it. Many, many people can’t afford that.
“How many of us have that money we don’t need or perhaps want to leave to our children or wife?”
The debate over the legality of assisted suicide has polarised Britons but Mr Wardle, having witnessed the devatastion the disease has wrought on his family members, is firmly in support of it.
He said seeing his sister at the end of her life in Canada left him certain people should have a choice over their death.
He said: “She was a lovely woman but she ended up looking like someone who had come out of one of the Nazi concentration camps. She was in obvious pain.
“She was a very private person and hated the loss of dignity. Canada has subsequently made laws for assisted dying, but they came too late for her.”
He added: “The things I fear are a loss of dignity. And obviously there’s a pain factor. Also I would not want my wife and my son to see me like my sister.”
Tim believes assisted dying should be available to people in Britain who are terminally ill or suffering with conditions such as Motor Neurone Disease.
Calling for an urgent law change in Britain, he added: “We’re Victorian in our attitude to death.
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“We treat our animals better than we do people. If you find a pet to be suffering intolerably, you are considered doing the right thing if you have them put down.
“If we can do that for our animals who can’t express a view, why can’t we do that for humans who can.”
Those in opposition to the legalisation of assisted suicide argue that affirmative action would lead to people ending their lives out of fear of becoming a burden to their family and friends.
The latest data from 2021 shows that 23 Britons travelled to Dignitas, in Switzerland, to be assisted in their own deaths that year. The highest number of travellers was recorded in 2016, when 47 people made the journey.
The Samaritans can be reached round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If you need a response immediately, it’s best to call them on the phone. You can reach them by calling 116 123, by emailing [email protected] or by visiting www.samaritans.org.
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