Stoke & Staffordshire

Assisted suicide: 'Tragedy my son could not die at home'

Andrew Colgan
Image caption Andrew Colgan would have chosen to die at home if he could, his mother Yvonne said

The mother of a man who travelled to Switzerland to end his life said it was a "tragedy" he had been unable to choose to die at home.

Yvonne Colgan's 42-year-old son Andrew decided to end his life after nine years of living with multiple sclerosis, an incurable, progressive neurological condition.

She said her son had just wanted to die at home in Halmerend, Staffordshire, among those who loved him.

Because assisted suicide is illegal in the UK, she said his only choice had been to go abroad to die in an unfamiliar place he did not want to be.

Law inadequate

He took a lethal cocktail of drugs at the Swiss assisted dying group Dignitas on 8 December 2010.

Mrs Colgan told BBC Radio Stoke: "It is the most dreadful thing.

"I would not wish any parent to have to lose a child and do this but the tragedy is, had my son been able to end his life in this country, the country he was born in, he probably would have been here longer.

"He would have been able to die at home with his family and his friends that loved him around him, instead of in a strange country where he really didn't want to be."

Image caption Sir Terry has funded a commission to review the law on assisted suicides

To ensure he was well enough to fly to Switzerland, Mr Colgan made the Dignitas appointment earlier than he had wanted to.

A panel of medical and legal experts was asked in November 2010 to review the legal case for assisted suicide in England and Wales and said there was a strong case for a change in the law.

The Commission on Assisted Dying published its findings on assisted deaths on Thursday and concluded that the current legal status was "inadequate".

In an interview with fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett, a patron of the Dignity in Dying Campaign, Mr Colgan said: "All I've got to look forward to now is things getting worse. It's like walking down an alley that's getting narrower, with no doors."

Mr Colgan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003 but began experiencing symptoms in 2001.

'Last words'

As a committed Christian, Mrs Colgan said she found assisted suicide hard to bear but accepted it was her son's right.

"It was his choice and this is what this is all about, the individual's right.

"When they are in a situation that is unbearable to them and they have a condition that is only going to get worse, you have to be there for them."

The 66-year-old widow travelled to Dignitas with Mr Colgan's two brothers Chris, 37, and Brendan, 47.

She said it was a "nice little chalet" staffed by compassionate people but did not compare with home.

It took him an hour-and-a-half to die.

She said: "The last words he said to me, were 'I'm so sorry mum."

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