“Make sure I don’t wake up” – Mandurah man calls for assisted dying laws after wife’s death

Heartbreak: Mandurah man Nigel Haines has called for assisted dying legislation after watching his wife Suzie suffer in the final years of her life. Photo: Gareth McKnight
Heartbreak: Mandurah man Nigel Haines has called for assisted dying legislation after watching his wife Suzie suffer in the final years of her life. Photo: Gareth McKnight

Mandurah man Nigel Haines has urged the State Government to embrace euthanasia legislation after enduring the heartbreak of watching his wife Suzie pass away following years of suffering.

The prospect of more-robust laws around assisted dying in WA is one step closer, as the Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices is set to deliver a report on Thursday.

The parliamentary group has spent the last 12 months hearing from stakeholders, groups and members of the public in relation to their beliefs on the possibility of euthanasia in WA – with Mr Haines one of those to make a passionate submission.

His wife Suzie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2005 and suffered in the last years of her life before dying in 2011.

Mr Haines said the heartache of his wife asking him to end her life was a testament to why new legislation was needed in WA.

“In Suzie’s case, if she had the option of voluntary euthanasia, she wouldn’t have suffered for the length of time or had the lack of dignity that she did,” he said.

“There was at least three years of suffering that Suzie wouldn’t have had to go through. 

“She was strongly in favour of organ donation and strongly in favour of voluntary euthanasia. But, she was denied that. By the time she passed away her body was shutting down and they couldn’t use anything. 

“She said ‘do you love me?’ I said yes. She said ‘if you really love me, you’ll make sure I don’t wake up in the morning.’ That’s when it brought it home to me just how serious it was.”

More choice: Mr Haines said WA's parliamentarians should listen to the beliefs of their constituents in relation to assisted dying. Photo: Gareth McKnight.

More choice: Mr Haines said WA's parliamentarians should listen to the beliefs of their constituents in relation to assisted dying. Photo: Gareth McKnight.

Mr Haines said not backing assisted dying legislation due to concerns of foul play was “a cop out” but the correct safeguards needed to be in place.

“If we just say ‘it’s never going to happen’, it will be terrible – you are going to have people committing suicide in terrible ways,” he said.

“That really would hurt their next of kin more than someone dying with dignity.

“Once we say we are in favour of going down that track, at least it is a step in the right direction.”

Mr Haines said residents with opinions on the topic should contact their local representatives, with every likelihood any new legislation could come down to a conscience vote of MPs.

“I’m hoping the parliamentarians will reflect the wishes of the constituents,” he said.

Do you have an opinion on assisted dying legislation? Send a letter to the editor at editor.mandurahmail@fairfaxmedia.com.au.