Man with motor neurone disease dies after removing mask

  • Published
Media caption,

John King had been a regular runner and gym user

A man with advanced motor neurone disease has died days after giving an interview to raise awareness of the effects of the incurable illness.

John King, 77, from Worcestershire, died on Thursday after removing a mask he relied on for air to stay alive.

After his diagnosis 18 months ago, the businessman had been fed through a tube and needed constant care.

"I think I'm at the right point in my life to make the decision... I have no issue with it at all," he told the BBC.

The method of ending his own life did not constitute assisted suicide, he said.

Mr King had been a regular runner and gym user, but before his death required pumped air through a face mask to be able to breathe and said without it he would die quickly.

He died in a hospice with his wife Elaine by his side.

The grandfather and father-of-two, from Sutton, near Tenbury Wells, said he had planned his funeral with the help of a local celebrant and did not want a "dour affair", but a "celebration of his life".

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
John King and wife Elaine, pictured before he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease

Speaking to the BBC a week before his death, he said: "I've thought about this long enough.

"I live in this wheelchair. This is my life from the moment I've got out of bed in the morning.

"I have carers coming in to get me out of bed, shower me and dress me... It's all these silly little things that make you just feel so useless that you get to a point of saying 'what's the point of still being alive'?"

Talking about her husband's decision, Mrs King said: "No-one can blame him whatsoever.

"I see him 24/7 and how he is now to how he used to be and how he suffers. I don't have a problem."

Image caption,
Noel Conway is calling for a change in the law around assisted suicide

Mr King said he did not want a change in the law for assisted suicide as it "could make people vulnerable to pressure".

It comes after right-to-die campaigner Noel Conway, 68, from Shropshire, said he 'I feel cheated' - right to die campaigner

Assisted suicide is illegal in England and Wales under the 1961 Suicide Act and can be punishable with up to 14 years in jail.

Mr Conway also has motor neurone disease, a progressive and terminal illness which affects the function of nerves and muscles.

Chris James, from the MND Association said the illness was a "brutal disease" that has a devastating affect on people's lives.

"It's obviously a really traumatic time for John, for his family and his friends and indeed for the health professionals [who looked after him]."

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