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Australian firefighter’s emotional plea before euthanasia

Left and centre, Troy Thornton and his wife Christine. Photo Credit: Facebook/@MorningtonFireBrigade

Australian firefighter’s emotional plea before euthanasia

Australian firefighter’s emotional plea before euthanasia

‘We should be able to choose’: Australian firefighter Troy Thornton dies in Swiss euthanasia clinic.

Just hours before his death, 54-year-old Troy Thornton – an Australian firefighter who had been battling multiple system atrophy – had a powerful message for Australian politicians and the public, urging them to think about how people should be able to end their lives.

The Victorian man said he wanted the nation to think deeply about the concept of dying well, and to challenge the notion that choosing death is somehow wrong.

He wanted to legally end his life at home in Australia, with all those he loved around him. But despite Victoria becoming the first state to legalise voluntary assisted dying, he did not qualify.

If he were to stay at home in Australia, he faced dying as a “vegetable” over several years from his disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder with no prospect of recovery.

Instead he made the decision to travel to a Swiss euthanasia clinic where he died by lethal injection late on Friday, Australian time.

His wife Christine was there to hold his hand, but he died without his two teenage children – Jack, 17, and daughter Laura, 14 – by his side. He farewelled them in Australia on Sunday.

He called his disease a “beast”: one that takes everything away slowly.

“First you can’t swim, then you can’t run, walk, kick the footy with your children, you can’t surf, drive; eventually it takes your career. Then you end up being a vegetable. “It’s a pretty grim way to go out,” Thornton told AAP.

“What the guy in the street doesn’t understand is that those laws don’t help people like me who are also suffering. These laws need to evolve,” he went on to say.

“The focus on being terminal is wrong. It’s about the right to choose how you die, no matter how old you are, no matter what sickness, or non-sickness you’ve got. If you are of sound mind – and that’s important – you should be able to choose.”

His mother left a heartwrenching message on Saturday on the Facebook page of Mornington Fire Brigade, where her son was the officer in charge until his retirement last year.

“To my beautiful son Troy, I feel so proud of you and all you have achieved not only in your working life but a wonderful family man,” Barbara Spencer wrote.

“My heart aches for you today. I am sending my love and hope you feel it in your heart my arms are wrapped around you they will be as you take your final journey.

“Rest In Peace my Boy. I love you and will carry you in my heart forever. Mum xxxxxxxooooo”

All the best, mate. It's been an honour.

Posted by Mornington Fire Brigade on Thursday, February 21, 2019


Thornton urged Australians to stand up for the right to make their own end of life choices, adding that this was the hardest decision he’s ever had to make.

“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is say goodbye to them. It just destroyed me,” he told AAP.

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