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Heartbroken families of ‘proud’ Newcastle fathers want assisted death legalized after ‘agonizing deaths’ UK News

Two Tyneside families have spoken of the horrific deaths of their loved ones as they campaign for the legalization of physician-assisted dying in the UK.

Dr Jenna Kirtley and Naomi Craven are both part of a new Dignity in Dying campaign group in the North East.

Jenna’s stepfather – or ‘stad’ – Ken Yeomans, 58, died of prostate cancer, while Naomi’s father Ray Craven, 70, checked into a clinic Dignitas in Switzerland at the end of his life – after a rapid progression of motor neurone disease (MND) saw his ability to walk and even talk disappear within months.

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The two women want to raise awareness for the cause – which is supported by an “overwhelming” 84% of the public according to a 2019 Populus poll – and pressure public figures to support proposed assisted dying legislation. to be adopted by politicians in Westminster. This year.

Over the coming week, the House of Lords is expected to debate an amendment to the Health and Care Bill, which would mean the government introducing assisted dying legislation this year – while the Baroness Meacher’s assisted dying bill passed its second reading in the House of Lords last autumn. .

For Jenna, Ken’s death was “the most traumatic thing possible.”

She told ChronicleLive how his cancer – which he stoically treated for several years – had become incredibly aggressive and terminal in 2021.

“The reality is that for a long time you wouldn’t have known he was sick,” she said.

“We almost forgot he had cancer. I think it’s partly because of the way he lived – he never wanted to be seen as sick. He always wanted to make the most of his life and live it fully.

“Even when he was going through treatment, you didn’t know it. He was going to do chemo, come back, throw up and then do 100 burpees in the garden. He was so determined not to let it affect him.

“So we all had a shock when he found out this was going to be it. He was working in Dubai. He was due to come back in April last year and when he was on his way back he was complaining of neck pain .”

Dr Jenna Kirtley and Janice Craven campaign for the legalization of assisted dying at Grey's Monument in Newcastle
Dr Jenna Kirtley and Janice Craven campaign for the legalization of assisted dying at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle

Jenna explained that although the pain increased while he was abroad, Ken hadn’t hinted at how bad things were – but when he got home he was told he would had about a year to live.

“What was happening from then on was the cancer was crushing his bones,” she said. “Somehow he held on. You could see he didn’t look good, but he always said he was fine.

“We went from seeing this man who looked healthy and fit – someone who was exercising, who was running – to someone who could barely walk.

“He was in so much pain. My sister has three children and for them it was horrible to see him in so much pain. He could barely speak. We were processing the news that he had a year to live when he was became clear that he really had days to live.”

As Ken’s condition deteriorated at the start of the summer – he died in July – his quality of life suffered greatly and his family found his final weeks traumatic.

Naomi, Janice and Ray Craven after being diagnosed with Ray's motor neuron disease
Naomi, Janice and Ray Craven after being diagnosed with Ray’s motor neuron disease

“I had to stop working. I was home with him looking after him for the last ten days,” Jenna said. “All I can say is that it’s been ten days of horrible pain for all of us.

“This man – who was so proud – needed his family to help him get to the bathroom. He was saying things like he wanted the nurses to come knock him down.

“He was ready to die.”

Jenna said it was important for people to understand the realities of death. She said: “People might have all these ideas about how you peacefully escape when you die, but that was the most traumatic thing to watch. That person was not able to breathe, not able to speak We felt completely helpless.

Dr. Jenna Kirtley with her
Dr Jenna Kirtley with her “stage” Ken Yeomans

“In a civilized society you should be able to die when there is no quality of life. I specialize in trauma work, I know what trauma is, it was traumatic for the whole family. “

Saying the way her father was forced to die was ‘unacceptable’, she added: ‘We should all talk more about death and dying. Young people should get involved – one day it will be them.’

Naomi’s father, Ray Craven, was able to have an assisted death while traveling to Switzerland, but she said the laborious process, expense and hardship of travel had all made it “incredibly difficult” – and said the people shouldn’t have to leave their homes to die peacefully.

She said: “It’s something I felt strongly about before my dad’s experience, but it solidified it. My dad was a real Geordie. He was born in the General and grew up in the Stanhope neighborhood Street.

“He was a very popular speaker. He started to get sick around…

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This notice was published: 2022-03-12 06:00:00

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