Purdy tells why she chose to die

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Published: Tuesday 30th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Right-to-die campaigner Debbie Purdy, who died after suffering with primary progressive multiple sclerosis for nearly 20 years, said she chose to die because she could no longer cope with living with the condition.

In a final interview with BBC Yorkshire, t he 51-year-old, from Bradford, said winning a House of Lords ruling which resulted in new government guidelines on assisted suicide in 2009 had given her “years of time”, but revealed the reasons behind her decision to begin refusing food a year ago.

Her family described her as a “much loved wife, sister, aunt and friend” after she died in the Marie Curie Hospice in her home city, where she had been staying for a year, on December 23.

During a 30-minute documentary, filmed at her home and the hospice, she said: “It’s not a matter of wanting to end my life, it’s a matter of not wanting my life to be this.

“I have lived with MS for nearly 20 years gratefully, and winning that court case in 2009 has given me years of time that I’m grateful for but I can’t cope with any more.

“It’s painful and it’s uncomfortable and it’s frightening and it’s not how I want to live. If somebody could find a cure for MS I would be the first person in line.”

Following the landmark ruling, Keir Starmer QC, the then director of public prosecutions, said the change meant the motives of those assisting suicide would be at the centre of the decision over whether they should be prosecuted.

As her condition deteriorated Ms Purdy invited BBC Yorkshire journalist Emma Glasbey into her home as she prepared to make the decision to begin refusing food and end her life.

The journalist, who had followed Ms Purdy’s story since 2008, filmed with her in June 2013, in December last year on her last day at home before entering the Bradford hospice, and again in the hospice in July 2014.

The documentary will be shown on BBC One (Yorkshire) at 10.25pm today and will also be available on BBC iPlayer shortly afterwards.

Earlier, her husband Omar Puente paid tribute to her, along with campaign group Dignity in Dying, describing her as a “valued campaigner and friend”.

Mr Puente, told the BBC: “We would like to thank the Marie Curie Hospice in Bradford for the care the staff gave her, which allowed her last year to be as peaceful and dignified as she wished.”

And Dignity in Dying chief executive Sarah Wootton said: “Debbie wanted choice and control over her death should she consider her suffering unbearable.

“Ultimately she was seeking peace of mind that her wishes would be respected, but also crucially that her decisions would not result in the potential imprisonment of her husband.

“She rejected the option of travelling abroad to die, and instead, wanting to die in this country, chose to hasten her death by stopping eating.

“Debbie rallied against the hypocrisy of the current law, which turns a blind eye to people travelling abroad to die, whilst seeking to protect them by threatening the imprisonment of their loved ones after their death.”

Published: Tuesday 30th December 2014 by The News Editor

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