Assisted dying was an idea I was aware of as I was growing up and one which seemed to make logical sense - if you are dying you should have control over the suffering that sometimes comes with that process. Then, at university, I worked as a healthcare assistant, mainly in palliative care. It was then I was forced to face the reality of our current cruel laws.
A physician is supposed to be a healer. Helping patients is so central to the profession's ideal that newly minted doctors take an oath to "do no harm". As a medical student, I look forward to the unique honour and responsibility of taking care of patients; but I'm also conscious of - and frightened by - a darker side of medical history.
Animals have feelings and emotions, and they suffer from pain, disabilities and diseases just as humans do. But unlike my father, who could clearly communicate his wishes through a system of blinking his eyes, animals can't tell us (at least not in human language) that they don't feel well, are in terrible pain or even want to die. They depend on us to notice when something is wrong and to be brave enough to make the heartbreaking-but-humane decision to end their suffering when the time comes.
The Liverpool Care Pathway, a protocol normally used for the "dying patient", came under extensive scrutiny by the media recently.
Our beloved 14 year old cocker spaniel Sammy who has lived for the past six months with senile dementia, blindness, a lack of bowel control and use of his legs, was put to sleep yesterday. With our dog we were allowed to choose when to end his life so that he could die with dignity and achieve a 'good death'. We were not allowed that option with my father.