SARS doctor Donald Low urges Canadians to legalize assisted suicide in posthumous message
Video: Dr. Donald Low makes a plea for Canadians to legalize assisted suicide, in a video made before his own death. Jennifer Tryon reports.
TORONTO – Dr. Donald Low died in his wife’s arms and he was not in pain. But he didn’t have the death he had hoped for.
This is the conclusion of a video the microbiologist – one of the key figures in Canada’s battle against SARS – shot just eight days before his death last week. In the seven-minute clip, he urges Canadian officials to allow assisted suicide.
“In Canada, it’s illegal and it’ll be a long time before we mature to a level where we accept dying with dignity. There’s a lot of opposition to it, clinicians have opposition…,” he said.
“I wish they could live in my body for 24 hours and I think they would change that opinion. I’m just frustrated not being able to control my own life, not being able to make that decision for myself when enough is enough.”
It’s an emotional video that was posted by Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, an organization created by the federal government.
In the candid video, he talks openly about envying countries like the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States, where assisted suicide is accepted. Patients drink a drug cocktail and fall asleep surrounded by families.
Low hadn’t had to deal with headaches or paralysis yet. Instead, he had trouble seeing and hearing, but he was worried about what was ahead – would he need to be carried around his own home? Would he have trouble eating?
“I know it’s going to end, it’s never going to get better so I’m going to die and what worries me is how I’m going to die,” Low said.
Last February, Low was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He died on Sept. 18.
Low is survived by his wife, Maureen Taylor, and by three children from a previous marriage. Low was a Winnipeg native.
WATCH: Maureen Taylor, widow of Dr. Don Low, discusses how Dr. Low’s powerful video on legalizing assisted suicide came about and its importance
The federal government says its laws on euthanasia and assisted suicide are in place to “protect all Canadians, including those who are most vulnerable, such as people who are sick or elderly or people with disabilities.”
Ottawa voted not to change the laws in 2010, Paloma Aguilar, press secretary for the Minister of Justice, said in a statement.
“We will respect that decision, and have no intention of reopening this debate.”