New group fighting for right to die with dignity
WATCHING her husband's organs shut down as he slowly and painfully died, Phyllis Wagner vowed she should have the right to die on her own terms, without prolonged suffering.
Now the Bundaberg woman has taken on the roles of Wide Bay and Bundaberg/Burnett electorate co-ordinator for Dying with Dignity Queensland.
The Victoria branch worked alongside Go Gentle Australia to help pass historic euthanasia laws in Victoria last year, and Mrs Wagner wants to see similar laws introduced in Queensland.
Eighteen years ago Mrs Wagner watched her late husband deteriorate over three years from diabetes-related complications and she said everyone involved with Dying with Dignity had a similar story.
"Once you see the story of your loved one suffering, you vow that that's not right," she said.
"When it came to the end ... all his internal organs were stopping ... his kidneys had stopped functioning, his temperature was 41.6," she said.
"He was in pain ... what would it have been to give that very decent man an injection that slowly just put him to sleep? Why did he have to go through all that?
"It was a horrendous last few days. Why not just let the man go peacefully?
"I'm going to be haunted forever watching my husband die like that ... starved, dehydrated.
"I don't what to go through what my husband went through."
Mrs Wagner said the Dying with Dignity would hold its first open public meeting in Bundaberg this week, as the group believed now was the right time to lobby the government for change.
"We're an advocacy organisation pursuing a change in law that will enhance choice at the end of life," she said.
"We seek legislation that enables competent adults experiencing unrelievable suffering from a terminal or incurable illness to receive medical assistance to end their life peacefully at a time of their choosing.
"It's all about having a choice.
"We need to have palliative care, we need to have our paperwork all in order, the will and the power of attorney.
"But when there's no more help and all you can do is lay there until you die because we don't have law that helps us."
Mrs Wagner understands there are others who feel just as strongly opposed to euthanasia but, she says even if the laws were passed, it simply give everyone the right to chose how they died.
"By getting this passed you don't have to use it ... but you can chose how you want your life to end."
The Bundaberg/Burnett Dying with Dignity meeting is on Friday at Take the Plunge Cafe, Quinn St from 10-11.30am.
Cost is $5.50, with tea/coffee provided. No bookings required.