‘Terminally ill’ man who wanted euthanasia recovers

A man who applied for euthanasia - believing he was months from death - has discovered he is no longer terminally ill.

Andrew Barnes, 55, applied to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland for an assisted suicide after doctors told him he would be dead within months.

However, Mr Barnes’ GP refused to sign a consent form, telling him he could make a recovery if he cut down on alcohol.

After his attempt to visit Dignitas was blocked, Mr Barnes, who lives in Altamira, Topsham, considered increasingly desperate methods to end his life - including buying a gun and shooting himself.

However, having given up drinking and received new treatment for low blood potassium levels, Mr Barnes’s health has now improved. Although he is still suffering from liver and kidney problems, his life is no longer in danger.

Mr Barnes said: “I went to see a consultant cardiologist last year and he told me my heart, liver and kidneys were shot - and I had three months to live.

“He took away any hope I had of recovery.”

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With his condition deteriorating, Mr Barnes applied to Dignitas, the controversial assisted dying clinic, but was prevented from ending his life there when his GP refused to give his consent.

“My GP said my condition wasn’t terminal and I could stop drinking and get better.

“He wouldn’t agree with the cardiologist and said that he could have made a mis-diagnosis.”

Mr Barnes did cut back on his drinking, but was only put back on the road to recovery after a routine blood test

“I went in for a check up and they found that my blood potassium levels were dangerously low, so they kept me in hospital for 10 days and they got me better.”

Despite his near miss, Mr Barnes has no complaints about how he was treated - and is still an advocate of euthanasia.

“When I was in hospital, I saw wards of people who were very ill. Some of them the nurses had to pick up with a crane, like a mechanic would to service a car.

“They had no control over their bodily functions and, if they’d been offered death, I’m sure half of them would have taken it. There was no dignity to their lives any more.

“If I was in that condition, I’d rather go to Dignitas.”

l What do readers think about assisted suicide? Email phil.griffin@archant.co.uk