Euthanasia campaigner describes David Goodall’s final moments before ending his life

Drive 12/05/2018
Philip Nitschke, David Goodall, Carol O’Neil / Exit Intl

British-born scientist David Goodall died at age 104 after choosing to end his life at a clinic in Switzerland.

The admired ecologist and botanist was unable to safely end his life in Australia, where he lived most of his life, so he opted to fly to Switzerland for the procedure.

Unlike the typical patient seeking to end their life, Mr Goodall was not terminally ill or in excessive pain. His decision was largely due to his self-described deteriorating quality of life.  

Philip Nitschke was one of the eight people in the room when Mr Goodall ended his life.

Mr Nitschke, euthanasia campaigner and founder of Exit International told Ryan Bridge and Lisa Owen that the scientist was “about the least sad person in the whole room”.

Just minutes before his death, Mr Goodall’s last words were reportedly “well this is taking an awfully long time”, a tone at which Mr Nitschke described as rather indignant.

The procedure, after a brief hiccup that forced Mr Goodall to start over, took around four minutes while Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th symphony played.

“It was sad that he was going, but we were kind of happy that he finally got what he wanted,” Mr Nitschke told RadioLIVE.

Mr Nitschke explained that Mr Goodall was quite “annoyed” with Australia in its inability to allow him to end his life peacefully.

“David’s case illustrates that much more fundamentally this is a human right for the elderly. And that’s what he would say and that’s where the debate is going, certainly here in Europe.

“People are saying, look it’s not just a privilege for the very sick. This is something that elderly people should be able to demand access to these drugs.”

Mr Goodall had told the press on Wednesday that “One wants to, at my age, even rather less than my age... to be free to choose death when the death is at an appropriate time."

Switzerland has allowed dying since 1942, and is the only country that offers the procedure to foreigners. 

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Listen to the full interview with Philip Nitschke above.

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