“This is taking a long time,” were scientist David Goodall’s final words, it has been revealed.
David Goodall has ended his life at the age of 104, by flying to Switzerland and taking advantage of the assisted dying facilities that are legal there.
He is one of the first Australians to end their own life through legal euthanasia because of old age, rather than a terminal illness – a move than has fuelled debate about the topic.
Dr Goodall ended his life at the Eternal Spirit clinic in Basel, Switzerland.
How Dr Goodall spent his final days
Dr Goodall spent his final day with three of his grandchildren walking around the Basel University Botanical Gardens.
He met with doctors in the days leading up to his death, who confirmed his intention to end his life and to assess if he was of sound mind. This process is required under Swiss law.
Dr Goodall ate his favourite meal – fish and chips and cheesecake – on his last night, surrounded by family and friends, in what has been described as “a big party”.
“There was so much laughter and so many stories being told,” Ruedi Habegger, co-founder of Eternal Spirit, told The New Daily.
A media conference in the days before he died
In a media conference only hours before he died, Dr Goodall said, “At my age, or less than my age, one wants to be free to choose death when the death is at an appropriate time.”
“My abilities have been in decline over the past year or two, my eyesight over the past six years. I no longer want to continue life. I’m happy to have the chance tomorrow to end it.”
His final hours
On his final day, Dr Goodall and his family arrived at the clinic for the scheduled appointment.
A doctor administered the lethal drug – 15 grams of pentobarbital sodium – through a cannula; Dr Goodall himself had to turn a wheel to allow the solution to flow into his body.
The process would have been filmed to provide “reliable evidence” the death was executed “by themselves and in full awareness”.
Within a few minutes of taking the drug, Dr Goodall fell asleep; he died within half an hour.
“He almost became a little impatient at the end, having to go through quite a few necessary formal steps that are part of the process,” Philip Nitschke, founder of right-to-die group Exit International wrote in a statement.
“His final words were ‘this is taking a long time.’”
Family supports decision to die
Dr Goodall’s grandchildren, some of whom were with him up until his final moments, said they were proud of him, and supported his decision to die on his own terms.
His grandson Daniel told The Daily Mail, “He is so brave and I am so glad that he has been able to make his own choice.
“It is his wish that he can end his life, but such a shame that he was not allowed to do it in his own country.”
Dr Goodall’s body will be donated to science or his ashes sprinkled locally. The scientist does not believe in the afterlife.