Loving grandmother diagnosed with a rare brain disease decides to end her ‘fantastic’ life using South Australia’s new euthanasia laws
- Denise Wyatt used SA’s assisted dying program
- He was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease in 2017.
- Grandma died voluntarily at age 75 on March 12
The family of a beloved grandmother described as the “life of the party” has revealed why she decided to end her life under South Australia’s new euthanasia laws.
Denise Wyatt was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a rare progressive brain disorder that affects a patient’s physical and cognitive ability, in 2017.
Her adult daughter, Amanda Hancock, said her mother deteriorated rapidly after her diagnosis, eventually weighing just 90 pounds and unable to swallow when the state passed new voluntary assisted dying laws.
Ms. Wyatt had always told her family that she wanted to die on her own terms without ever having her independence robbed.
Denise Wyatt (bottom left) died surrounded by her family on March 12 using South Australia’s assisted dying programme.
“She would tell anyone who visited her, ‘I want to die,'” Ms Hancock said. 7News.
Ms Wyatt (pictured hugging her daughter Amanda Hancock) was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease in 2017
‘She lived life to the fullest. She had a fantastic life. She wanted to die with dignity.
“By the end I was very anxious, very upset and almost begging for this to happen.”
Ms. Wyatt died surrounded by her family on March 12, 2023, aged 75.
She is one of six people who have used SA’s assisted dying program since it began Jan. 31.
The program has very strict requirements and is only open to people who have only six months to live due to a terminal illness or those who have been diagnosed with a progressive disease.
People with Huntington’s disease have been known to live another 25 years after their diagnosis, but their quality of life is steadily declining.
While the laws were being drafted, critics of the program raised concerns that regulations on euthanasia could be relaxed in the future.
Ms Hancock (pictured with her partner) said the help they received during Ms Wyatt’s euthanasia program was “fantastic”.
Euthanasia is not the only option. We need to make sure palliative care is sufficiently funded so that it remains a real option for people,” said Liberal MLC Dennis Hood.
However, Ms Hancock applauded the show for helping her mother die a peaceful death and thanked the ‘fantastic’ people who guided her family.
‘(It was) very clear, very concise. From the first conversation, from the very beginning to the day my mother passed away, everything was done amazingly,” she said.
ELIGIBILITY FOR ASSISTED DYING IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA
South Australian Health provides the following criteria for people seeking to use its assisted dying program:
You are 18 years of age or older.
You are an Australian citizen or permanent resident
You live in South Australia and have lived in South Australia for at least 12 months at the time of first application
You have decision-making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted death
You are acting freely and without coercion.
You have been diagnosed with a disease, illness or medical condition that meets all of the criteria listed below:
- it is incurable
- It is advanced and progressive.
- Will cause death within six (6) months, or 12 months if you have a neurodegenerative disease
- It is causing you suffering that cannot be alleviated in a way that you find tolerable.