Assisted dying campaigner Noel Conway dead aged 71 after choosing to remove ventilator

Noel Conway, a right-to-die campaigner who had motor neurone disease, has died aged 71 after making the decision to remove his ventilator.

Conway died on Wednesday (June 9) at his home in Shropshire and had become dependent on the ventilator in order to breathe.

The retired college lecturer had brought a High Court challenge against the law on assisted dying in 2017.

But he was told that it would be “institutionally inappropriate” for the court to challenge a decision made by Parliament two years earlier.

In a statement released by the charity Dignity in Dying, Mr Conway said: “When you read this I will be dead. Not because I have suffered a tragic accident or died suffering from a long-standing or painful disease. No, it will be because I have made a conscious and deliberate effort to end my own life.

“I suffer from MND and was diagnosed over six years ago knowing that at some stage I would reach a point when my muscles would have deteriorated to such an extent that I could not function effectively.

“Only the past two months it has become increasingly evident to me that the balance of fulfilment in life, or if you like, my quality of life, has dipped into the negative. I recognise that the time has come to take the decision now to do something about this.”

Noel Conway pictured with his family outside The Royal Courts of Justice in London

Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Mr Clarke said that it was “perfectly legitimate” for the ventilator to be removed and he felt he had “no alternative to ending my life without pain and suffering”.

Conway previously stated that he had wanted a doctor to administer a lethal dose to him in order to allow him to die without fear of prosecution.

“If I let nature take its course, I could effectively become entombed in my own body as my ability to move and communicate continues to diminish, or I may die by suffocation or choking,” he said in 2017.

He is survived by his wife Carol, who said in a statement: “Noel died peacefully on the 9th of June 2021. The hospice team, ventilation nurses and all involved were so supportive of Noel, myself and our children. They ensured Noel had a painless and dignified death, demonstrating empathy and concern for us all.

Noel Conway, who had motor neurone disease, and his wife Carol

Credit: Annabel Moeller/Dignity in Dying

“Ultimately, Noel wanted the choice of an assisted death, and I hope his campaigning will bring this option closer to becoming a reality for other terminally ill people in this country.”

Campaigners and peers have now predicted that assisted dying could be legalised within 18 months after they tabled the first legislation on the subject since the 2015 vote.

The Assisted Dying Bill, which had its first reading in the House of Lords in May, would provide terminally ill and mentally competent adults to choose the time and place of their death during the last six months of their life.

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