Thursday, 24 May, 2018

David Goodall, Australia's oldest scientist, ends his own life at 104

Day out in the sun One of Dr Goodall's grandchildren pushes his wheelchair through the Basel University Botanical Gardens Day out in the sun One of Dr Goodall's grandchildren pushes his wheelchair through the Basel University Botanical Gardens
Gerardo Duncan | 11 May, 2018, 04:29

Despite not having a terminal illness, David Goodall, who was 104, believed his quality of life had deteriorated and he secured a fast-track appointment with an assisted dying agency in Basel, reigniting the end-of-life debate.

Goodall ate a final meal of fish and chips and cheesecake before dying.

A noted ecologist and botanist, 104-year-old David Goodall reportedly took his final breaths as the song he chose, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", came to a close. A doctor put a cannula in his arm, and Mr. Goodall turned a wheel to allow the solution to flow, Exit International said.

Prof. Goodall, who did not believe in the afterlife and had been a member of Exit International for 20 years, said he tried clumsily to take own his life at least three times before deciding to get professional help.

"There's not going to be many people who have either the ability or the money or the willingness to go through what is quite a long and hard journey", Dr Nitschke said from Switzerland. Assisted dying is legal in only one state, but eligibility requires a person to be terminally ill.

Prof Goodall sang a few bars of the famous piece at his last press conference on Wednesday.

"Up to the age of 90 I was enjoying life, but not now", he said.

He requested that no funeral or remembrance service be held and that his body be donated to medicine or his ashes sprinkled locally.

"I am awaiting this", he said of his impending departure.

According to CNN, Goodall told reporters on Tuesday that his failing mobility and eyesight were a burden to live with and disclosed that his life stopped being enjoyable "five or 10 years ago".

"I would have preferred to have (ended) it in Australia, and I greatly regret that Australia is behind Switzerland" when it comes to right-to-die laws, he said.

"A peaceful, dignified death is the entitlement of all who want it", it said on its website on Monday.

However, the Australian Medical Association's president, Dr Michael Gannon, says he was concerned that the "suicide of someone who's aged 100" was being celebrated.

Goodall was an honorary research associate at Perth's Edith Cowan University, and had produced dozens of research works.

University officials later reversed their decision.

"At my age, and even rather less than my age, one wants to be free to choose the death and when the death is the appropriate time", he said.

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