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What happens if you want access to voluntary assisted dying but your nursing home won’t let you?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/neera-bhatia-15189">Neera Bhatia</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charles-corke-167297">Charles Corke</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>Voluntary assisted dying is now lawful in <a href="https://theconversation.com/voluntary-assisted-dying-will-soon-be-legal-in-all-states-heres-whats-just-happened-in-nsw-and-what-it-means-for-you-183355">all Australian states</a>. There is also <a href="https://nationalseniors.com.au/uploads/VAD-Report-correct-month-12.8.21.pdf">widespread community support</a> for it.</p> <p>Yet some residential institutions, such as hospices and aged-care facilities, are obstructing access despite the law not specifying whether they have the legal right to do so.</p> <p>As voluntary assisted dying is implemented across the country, institutions blocking access to it will likely become more of an issue.</p> <p>So addressing this will help everyone – institutions, staff, families and, most importantly, people dying in institutions who wish to have control of their end.</p> <h2>The many ways to block access</h2> <p>While voluntary assisted dying legislation recognises the right of doctors to <a href="https://theconversation.com/was-take-on-assisted-dying-has-many-similarities-with-the-victorian-law-and-some-important-differences-121554">conscientiously object</a> to it, the law is generally silent on the rights of institutions to do so.</p> <p>While the institution where someone lives has no legislated role in voluntary assisted dying, it can refuse access in various ways, including:</p> <ul> <li> <p>restricting staff responding to a discussion a resident initiates about voluntary assisted dying</p> </li> <li> <p>refusing access to health professionals to facilitate it, and</p> </li> <li> <p>requiring people who wish to pursue the option to leave the facility.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Here’s what happened to ‘Mary’</h2> <p>Here is a hypothetical example based on cases one of us (Charles Corke) has learned of via his role at Victoria’s <a href="https://www.safercare.vic.gov.au/about/vadrb">Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board</a>.</p> <p>We have chosen to combine several different cases into one, to respect the confidentiality of the individuals and organisations involved.</p> <p>“Mary” was a 72-year-old widow who moved into a private aged-care facility when she could no longer manage independently in her own home due to advanced lung disease.</p> <p>While her intellect remained intact, she accepted she had reached a stage at which she needed significant assistance. She appreciated the help she received. She liked the staff and they liked her.</p> <p>After a year in the facility, during which time her lung disease got much worse, Mary decided she wanted access to voluntary assisted dying. Her children were supportive, particularly as this desire was consistent with Mary’s longstanding views.</p> <p>Mary was open about her wish with the nursing home staff she felt were her friends.</p> <p>The executive management of the nursing home heard of her intentions. This resulted in a visit at which Mary was told, in no uncertain terms, her wish to access voluntary assisted dying would not be allowed. She would be required to move out, unless she agreed to change her mind.</p> <p>Mary was upset. Her family was furious. She really didn’t want to move, but really wanted to continue with voluntary assisted dying “in her current home” (as she saw it).</p> <p>Mary decided to continue with her wish. Her family took her to see two doctors registered to provide assessments for voluntary assisted dying, who didn’t work at the facility. Mary was deemed eligible and the permit was granted. Two pharmacists visited Mary at the nursing home, gave her the medication and instructed her how to mix it and take it.</p> <p>These actions required no active participation from the nursing home or its staff.</p> <p>Family and friends arranged to visit at the time Mary indicated she planned to take the medication. She died peacefully, on her own terms, as she wished. The family informed the nursing home staff their mother had died. Neither family nor staff mentioned voluntary assisted dying.</p> <h2>Staff are in a difficult position too</h2> <p>There is widespread community support for voluntary assisted dying. In a 2021 survey by National Seniors Australia, <a href="https://nationalseniors.com.au/uploads/VAD-Report-correct-month-12.8.21.pdf">more than 85%</a> of seniors agreed it should be available.</p> <p>So it’s likely there will be staff who are supportive in most institutions. For instance, in a survey of attitudes to voluntary assisted dying in a large public tertiary hospital, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/imj.15285">88% of staff</a> supported it becoming lawful.</p> <p>So a blanket policy to refuse dying patients access to voluntary assisted dying is likely to place staff in a difficult position. An institution risks creating a toxic workplace culture, in which clandestine communication and fear become entrenched.</p> <h2>What could we do better?</h2> <p><strong>1. Institutions need to be up-front about their policies</strong></p> <p>Institutions need to be completely open about their policies on voluntary assisted dying and whether they would obstruct any such request in the future. This is so patients and families can factor this into deciding on an institution in the first place.</p> <p><strong>2. Institutions need to consult their stakeholders</strong></p> <p>Institutions should consult their stakeholders about their policy with a view to creating a “<a href="https://bmcpalliatcare.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12904-021-00891-3">safe</a>” environment for residents and staff – for those who want access to voluntary assisted dying or who wish to support it, and for those who don’t want it and find it confronting.</p> <p><strong>3. Laws need to change</strong></p> <p>Future legislation should define the extent of an institution’s right to obstruct a resident’s right to access voluntary assisted dying.</p> <p>There should be safeguards in all states (as is already legislated <a href="https://documents.parliament.qld.gov.au/tp/2021/5721T707.pdf">in Queensland</a>), including the ability for individuals to be referred in sufficient time to another institution, should they wish to access voluntary assisted dying.</p> <p>Other states should consider whether it is reasonable to permit a resident, who does not wish to move, to be able to stay and proceed with their wish, without direct involvement of the institution.</p> <hr /> <p><em>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/183364/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/neera-bhatia-15189">Neera Bhatia</a>, Associate Professor in Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charles-corke-167297">Charles Corke</a>, Associate Professor of Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-happens-if-you-want-access-to-voluntary-assisted-dying-but-your-nursing-home-wont-let-you-183364">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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People with dementia aren’t currently eligible for voluntary assisted dying. Should they be?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ben-white-15387">Ben White</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/casey-haining-1486290">Casey Haining</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lindy-willmott-15386">Lindy Willmott</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-feeney-140352">Rachel Feeney</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>Dementia is the <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au/about-dementia">second leading cause of death</a> for Australians aged over 65. More than 421,000 Australians <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au/about-dementia">currently live with dementia</a> and this figure is expected to almost double in the next 30 years.</p> <p>There is ongoing public <a href="https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2024/220/9/should-voluntary-assisted-dying-victoria-be-extended-encompass-people-dementia">discussion</a> about whether dementia should be a qualifying illness under Australian voluntary assisted dying laws. Voluntary assisted dying is <a href="https://www.unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Issue-464-10-Waller-et-al.pdf">now lawful in all six states</a>, but is not available for a person living with dementia.</p> <p>The Australian Capital Territory has <a href="https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/8631104/marisa-paterson-to-consult-on-voluntary-assisted-dying-amendments/?cs=14329">begun debating</a> its voluntary assisted dying bill in parliament but the government has <a href="https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/DownloadFile/es/db_68610/current/PDF/db_68610.PDF">ruled out</a> access for dementia. Its view is that a person should retain decision-making capacity throughout the process. But the bill includes a requirement to <a href="https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/b/db_68609/">revisit the issue</a> in three years.</p> <p>The Northern Territory is also considering reform and <a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/subscribe/news/1/?sourceCode=TAWEB_WRE170_a_GGL&amp;dest=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theaustralian.com.au%2Fnation%2Fpolitics%2Fconcerning-territory-nt-surveys-public-support-on-euthanasia-for-mentally-ill%2Fnews-story%2F4e45111bb293af4cf32ac3c6df058869&amp;memtype=anonymous&amp;mode=premium&amp;v21=GROUPA-Segment-2-NOSCORE&amp;V21spcbehaviour=append">has invited views</a> on access to voluntary assisted dying for dementia.</p> <p>Several public figures have also entered the debate. Most recently, former Australian Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/melbourne-drive/voluntary-assisted-dying-dementia-victoria/103467864">called for the law to be widened</a> to allow access.</p> <p>Others <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/voluntary-assisted-dying-should-not-be-available-to-dementia-patients-20230607-p5deqo.html">argue</a> permitting voluntary assisted dying for dementia would present unacceptable risks to this vulnerable group.</p> <h2>Australian laws exclude access for dementia</h2> <p>Current Australian voluntary assisted dying laws <a href="https://www.unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/Issue-464-10-Waller-et-al.pdf">exclude access</a> for people who seek to qualify because they have dementia.</p> <p>In New South Wales, the <a href="https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2022-017">law specifically states</a> this.</p> <p>In the other states, this occurs through a <a href="https://www.unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Issue-451-White-et-al.pdf">combination of the eligibility criteria</a>: a person whose dementia is so advanced that they are likely to die within the 12 month timeframe would be highly unlikely to retain the necessary decision-making capacity to request voluntary assisted dying.</p> <p>This does not mean people who have dementia cannot access voluntary assisted dying if they also have a terminal illness. For example, a person who retains decision-making capacity in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease with terminal cancer may access voluntary assisted dying.</p> <h2>What happens internationally?</h2> <p>Voluntary assisted dying laws in some other countries allow access for people living with dementia.</p> <p>One mechanism, used in the Netherlands, is through <a href="https://agsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jgs.16692">advance directives or advance requests</a>. This means a person can specify in advance the conditions under which they would want to have voluntary assisted dying when they no longer have decision-making capacity. This approach depends on the person’s family identifying when those conditions have been satisfied, generally in consultation with the person’s doctor.</p> <p>Another approach to accessing voluntary assisted dying is to allow a person with dementia to choose to access it while they still have capacity. This involves regularly assessing capacity so that just before the person is predicted to lose the ability to make a decision about voluntary assisted dying, they can seek assistance to die. In Canada, this has been referred to as the “<a href="https://www.unswlawjournal.unsw.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Issue-451-White-et-al.pdf">ten minutes to midnight</a>” approach.</p> <h2>But these approaches have challenges</h2> <p>International experience reveals these approaches have limitations. For advance directives, it can be difficult to specify the conditions for activating the advance directive accurately. It also requires a family member to initiate this with the doctor. Evidence also shows doctors are <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1472-6939-16-7">reluctant</a> to act on advance directives.</p> <p>Particularly challenging are <a href="https://bmcmedethics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12910-019-0401-y">scenarios</a> where a person with dementia who requested voluntary assisted dying in an advance directive later appears happy and content, or no longer expresses a desire to access voluntary assisted dying.</p> <p>Allowing access for people with dementia who retain decision-making capacity also has practical problems. Despite regular assessments, a person may lose capacity in between them, meaning they miss the window before midnight to choose voluntary assisted dying. These capacity assessments can also be very complex.</p> <p>Also, under this approach, a person is required to make such a decision at an early stage in their illness and may lose years of otherwise enjoyable life.</p> <p>Some also argue that regardless of the approach taken, allowing access to voluntary assisted dying would involve unacceptable risks to a vulnerable group.</p> <h2>More thought is needed before changing our laws</h2> <p>There is <a href="https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Documents/TableOffice/TabledPapers/2020/5620T490.pdf">public demand</a> to allow access to voluntary assisted dying for dementia in Australia. The mandatory reviews of voluntary assisted dying legislation <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/ah/pdf/AH23005">present an opportunity</a> to consider such reform. These reviews generally happen after three to five years, and in some states they will occur regularly.</p> <p>The scope of these reviews can vary and sometimes governments may not wish to consider changes to the legislation. But the Queensland review “<a href="https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/pdf/asmade/act-2021-017">must include a review of the eligibility criteria</a>”. And the ACT bill requires the review to <a href="https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/b/db_68609/">consider</a> “advanced care planning”.</p> <p>Both reviews would require consideration of who is able to access voluntary assisted dying, which opens the door for people living with dementia. This is particularly so for the ACT review, as advance care planning means allowing people to request voluntary assisted dying in the future when they have lost capacity.</p> <p>This is a complex issue, and more thinking is needed about whether this public desire for voluntary assisted dying for dementia should be implemented. And, if so, how the practice could occur safely, and in a way that is acceptable to the health professionals who will be asked to provide it.</p> <p>This will require a careful review of existing international models and their practical implementation as well as what would be feasible and appropriate in Australia.</p> <p>Any future law reform should be <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/AH/AH19201">evidence-based</a> and draw on the views of people living with dementia, their family caregivers, and the health professionals who would be relied on to support these decisions.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/224075/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ben-white-15387"><em>Ben White</em></a><em>, Professor of End-of-Life Law and Regulation, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/casey-haining-1486290">Casey Haining</a>, Research Fellow, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lindy-willmott-15386">Lindy Willmott</a>, Professor of Law, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-feeney-140352">Rachel Feeney</a>, Postdoctoral research fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/people-with-dementia-arent-currently-eligible-for-voluntary-assisted-dying-should-they-be-224075">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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"I thought I was gone": Doctors reveal how close Jimmy Barnes came to dying

<p>Jimmy Barnes has shared how he fought to stay alive after being forced to undergo major surgery, admitting he didn't think we would survive. </p> <p>The rock legend underwent emergency heart surgery in December 2023, after being struck down with a dangerous infection that threatened his life. </p> <p>Speaking candidly to <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/60-minutes/jimmy-barnes-cold-chisel-illness-how-rock-icon-fought-to-stay-alive/3717a0d8-25ff-4400-bab3-f556e0b417c2" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>60 Minutes</em></a>, the 67-year-old said he didn't have much hope in his survival. </p> <p>"I just said to Jane, 'I don't think I'm gonna make it'. I just had this horrible morbid feeling because I've never felt this sick before. I thought I was gone," he said. </p> <p>Barnes was first admitted to hospital the day after pushing through excruciating pain in November to perform at a tribute concert for his late friend Michael Gudinski. </p> <p>After being admitted to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney with pneumonia, a team of specialists including cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Paul Jansz, soon discovered a much more sinister health issue was at play, as an infection quickly led to endocarditis: a life-threatening inflammation of the heart.</p> <p>"[The infection] was just eating at his heart. You see an abscess cavity forming around the valve, and that would've just grown and grown and grown," Jansz said.</p> <p>"It's fatal. If he didn't die of the infection, he would've died from heart failure, from the whole valve falling apart."</p> <p>By the time he was wheeled into theatre, his doctors say he had hours to live.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3e_KPSPsC-/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3e_KPSPsC-/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by 60 Minutes Australia (@60minutes9)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>"When I contemplated dying before surgery, I just thought, 'you have to savour those moments; have I told my children that I love 'em enough? Have I told Jane? The people you love, make sure you tell 'em'," Barnes said.</p> <p>Surgeons managed to fix Barnes' heart in a marathon seven-hour surgery, as the musician then faced a lengthy recovery process. </p> <p>"It's like you've been ripped in half," he said.</p> <p>"Your best friend is a pillow. If you cough, it's just agony. If you breathe too deep, it's agony. And sneezing would be the end of you."</p> <p>"But I think it's made me stronger. I want to be better than I was. I've got all this new life from this and I want to make the best of it. I want every minute to count."</p> <p>Now two months into his recovery, Jimmy is getting stronger everyday, and has nothing but thanks for his loved ones that stayed by his side during the difficult journey. </p> <p>"Without a doubt, the fact that my family were there and Jane was there, I wasn't going anywhere. I wanted to spend every breath I could spend with Jane. And if that meant fighting to live longer, I was going to do it."</p> <p>When asked about his highly-anticipated <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/entertainment/music/huge-news-for-jimmy-barnes-fans" target="_blank" rel="noopener">return to the stage</a> in April, he joked it would be his version of resurrection. </p> <p>He said, "I miss being on stage, I have to do it, I don't have a choice. I need to get out there and scream, it just clears the emotions out of you."</p> <p><em>Image credits: 60 Minutes </em></p>

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"I'm lowkey dying": Brave young woman with terminal illness shares her final wish

<p>Samantha Bulloch was given three years to live after she was diagnosed with gut-wrenching stage four bowel cancer at the young age of 28. </p> <p>A year later, Bulloch has shared a heartfelt plea on social media in hopes of meeting her idol- pop star Taylor Swift. </p> <p>The Swiftie has scored a ticket to Taylor's final show in Sydney on the 26th of February, but she’s calling on “anyone to hook a sister up” so she can meet-and-greet the singer backstage. </p> <p>“I’m low key dying and honestly this would just make my year,” she said in a video shared to TikTok. </p> <p>“I’m going out on a limb here so I’m just shooting my shot and we’re going to see what happens.</p> <p>“If anyone has any connections... I would love you forever.”</p> <p>Bulloch has been a fan of the megastar since she was 15 years old. </p> <p>“Taylor means so much to me, and I’d love the opportunity to tell her just how much of an impact she’s made on my life,” she told <em>7Life</em>. </p> <p>“I’ve loved her since I was 15, and her music has seen me through so many chapters in my life — including this one.</p> <p>“I love that her music transcends all kinds of walks of life, and so many of us connect with it so personally, despite the differences in our situations.</p> <p>“She has a real talent for making you feel less alone.I recently got a new tattoo of the lyric, ‘For the hope of it all’, from her song called August.</p> <p>“I adopted that lyric during my experience with cancer. I’m choosing to live for the hope of it all.”</p> <p>As she faces terminal cancer, Bulloch said that she is determined to live the rest of her life to the fullest. </p> <p>"I’m hoping and praying for many more years than what I’ve been given. But if not, I intend to try and maximise these few I’ve got left to the best of my ability," she said. </p> <p>“Thankfully I’ve always been quite a positive and hopeful person, and that hasn’t left me during this experience.”</p> <p>Bulloch was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2023, after experiencing low iron levels, fatigue and blood in her stool. </p> <p>She is currently on a chemotherapy regime and an immunotherapy drug and added that she also hopes to tick off many of her bucket list destinations this year, including visiting UK, Paris, New York and Tasmania. </p> <p>“My doctor has said I can, providing the treatment I’m on now works," the hopeful 29-year-old said. </p> <p>“Thankfully treatment has been working so hopefully in a few months I’ll be able to do that."</p> <p><em>Images: Samantha Bulloch </em></p>

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"Such a tragedy": Shannon Noll pulls dying teen from car wreck

<p>Singer Shannon Noll ha found himself at the centre of a tragic accident on a remote stretch of Ellangowan Road, just kilometres away from his northern New South Wales home. The incident involved an 18-year-old couple, Kobi Roberts-Walker and Jaselle Melrose, whose car veered off the road, crashing into a tree in a horrifying double fatal accident.</p> <p>Noll, best known for his time on <em>Australian Idol</em>, was on his way back to his family property when he became one of the first responders to the accident. The singer, faced with a burning car and desperate circumstances, didn't hesitate to take action. He bravely dragged the dying Jaselle Melrose from the wreckage and performed CPR in an attempt to save her life.</p> <p>In a statement to <a href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/two-teenagers-die-in-fiery-crash-after-hitting-tree/news-story/3bdf4004457b59e2078bff3caf0b3749" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Daily Telegraph</a>, Noll expressed the gravity of the situation, saying, “Last night was such a tragedy. I just reacted and did what I could to assist the young woman at the scene. Our prayers and condolences go out to their families at this terribly sad time.”</p> <p>Noll's manager, Paul Paoliello, revealed that the singer was deeply affected by the incident: “I can confirm Shannon did provide assistance last night and he is obviously quite shaken up by what happened,” Paoliello said.</p> <p>The local community, already shaken by the accident, has been left heartbroken over the loss of two young lives.</p> <p>Volunteer rescue workers who were present at the scene attested to Noll's immediate and courageous response. Describing the situation, a witness mentioned that Noll "literally ran" to the car engulfed in flames, pulling the passenger away before emergency services arrived. Others at the scene acknowledged Noll's determination to make a difference and lauded his hands-on approach.</p> <p>The victims, Kobi Roberts-Walker and Jaselle Melrose, were both 18 years old and deeply connected to their local community. Roberts-Walker, known by many in the area, had recently posted their car for sale, citing their anticipation of a growing family. Melrose, a recent graduate of Casino High School, was recognised for her academic achievements.</p> <p>The crash occurred on a notoriously hazardous section of Ellangowan Road, known for its narrow roadway and limited lighting. Locals have raised concerns about the safety of this stretch, and the New South Wales Police are currently investigating the incident to determine the cause and whether speed played a role.</p> <p><em>Images: Facebook</em></p>

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"I'm home": Paramedics grant dying grandmother's final wish

<p>Dedicated paramedics have made an emotional pit stop at the beach for a dying grandmother who wanted to see the ocean one last time. </p> <p>The ambos were transporting 94-year-old Shirl McHugh to the hospital when the grandmother asked to make a stop at Newcastle's Bar Beach: her favourite spot. </p> <p>Shirl told the paramedics she wanted to "feel the salt breeze one last time", as she had a feeling she wouldn't be leaving the hospital. </p> <p>When they stopped at the beach, the great-grandmother relaxed and told paramedic Brittaney Banks, "I'm home".</p> <p>Thankfully, Ms McHugh was able to bask in a beautifully fine day to take in the famous stretch of beach, which is busy with swimmers, surfers, lifesavers and families most days.</p> <p>Shirl, who was a respected member of her church as well as the wider community, died just 15 hours after her stop at the ocean. </p> <p>The NSW ambulance shared Shirl's story to their Instagram page, with paramedic Brittaney Banks recalling the emotional day. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CyK0y_Ns8j5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CyK0y_Ns8j5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by NSW Ambulance (@nswambulance)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>"When I opened the doors of the ambulance, Shirley said 'I'm home', and breathed a sigh of relaxation… it's one of those jobs I will remember forever," Brittaney said. </p> <p>Her granddaughter expressed her gratitude on social media, thanking the ambulance crew for respecting the special request from the stylish great-grandmother known to many as 'Shirl the Pearl'.</p> <p>"Thank you ladies for fulfilling my Nan's final wish on her way home," Emma Brown wrote. </p> <p>"She had such a beautiful soul, it was really my pleasure," Ms Banks replied.</p> <p>"I am so glad we could bring her home."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram</em></p>

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Dying husband and wife spend their final days holding hands

<p>A married couple have spent their final days holding hands in hospital, after their beds were pushed next to each other so they could be side-by-side as they both passed away. </p> <p>The couple from Tennessee, Tommy and Virginia Stevens, both 91, were both admitted to the Vanderbilt hospital for unrelated medical issues. </p> <p>Tommy, who was suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, had been struck down with aspiration pneumonia and sepsis, and was transferred to the hospital's palliative care unit. </p> <p>The same morning, Virginia suffered a fall as she sustained six broken ribs, a spinal fracture, and a hip injury, and was admitted to the hospital's trauma unit. </p> <p>As Tommy and Virginia's family were struggling to split time between the two wards, hospital staff were able to pull strings for the longtime lovebirds to be roomed side-by-side.</p> <p>Virginia was moved into a room near Tommy’s in the Palliative Care Unit, and her hospital bed was scooted against his so she could comfort him as his health continued to get worse, the hospital said.</p> <p>“He was awake when she came in,” their daughter Karen Kreager said.</p> <p>“His eyes were open. He wasn’t communicating a lot — just in small whispers. But he knew that she was there and that she was going to be right beside him. They haven’t stopped holding hands the whole time. She won’t let go of him.” </p> <p>“It reminds me of why we do this work,” Mohana Karlekar, MD, medical director of VUMC’s adult Palliative Care Program told local news station <em><a href="https://www.wsmv.com/2023/09/19/she-wont-let-go-him-vanderbilt-helps-hospitalized-wife-comfort-dying-husband/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">WSMV</a></em>.</p> <p>“We take care of people — husbands, wives, mothers, fathers — not patients. We brought this family together during one of their most difficult times with little effort on our part. It involved a call, seeing an extra patient that day and some conversations.”</p> <p>“From the time we brought Mrs. Stevens over, she held her husband’s hand and fussed in a very loving way with him,” Karlekar said.</p> <p>“She was able to tell me Monday that she was at peace with what was going on, and she wanted to be there until the end.”</p> <p>Tommy died on September 8th, just a day before the couple’s 69th anniversary, and Virginia died a few days later on September 17th.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Vanderbilt University Medical Center and The Stevens Family</em></p>

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Terminally ill teacher convicted of child abuse granted end-of-life permit

<p>A convicted child abuser from Adelaide, who was imprisoned for his acts of paedophilia against students during his tenure as a music teacher, has been authorised to pursue assisted dying, according to an exclusive report by <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/exclusive-adelaide-news-jailed-paedophile-teacher-malcolm-day-given-end-of-life-permit-voluntary-assisted-dying/cab7e95c-f3b1-4dbd-ae0d-cc8dbfee22c0" target="_blank" rel="noopener">9News</a>.</p> <p>Malcolm Day, aged 81, has emerged as the first incarcerated individual in Australia to receive approval for voluntary assisted dying following a terminal illness diagnosis, reportedly linked to cancer.</p> <p>Having received a 20-year prison sentence last June, Day's remaining term spans 17 years.</p> <p>Navigating the 11-step process required for accessing voluntary assisted dying in South Australia, Day's application is reported to be in its concluding stages, potentially reaching completion within the next few days.</p> <p>Dr Philip Nitschke, the director of the pro-euthanasia organisation Exit International, acknowledged that an incarcerated individual availing themselves of this scheme was an inevitable eventuality.</p> <p>"By the sounds of it, he satisfies all the conditions of the South Australian assisted dying legislation," Dr Nitschke told 9News. "So there should be no impediment… he should be given the option that any other person would have if they were terminally ill."</p> <p>During the 1980s, Day, while serving as a music teacher in South Australia, inflicted profound and lasting harm upon two of his students. After grooming and exploiting his victims, he vehemently refuted all allegations when investigated by educational authorities.</p> <p>When Day was sentenced, his legal representative, Stephen Ey, acknowledged the real possibility of his client passing away behind bars, saying at the time that it was "a real prospect... given his age."</p> <p>According to the latest data from SA Health, since the initiation of voluntary assisted dying in January of this year, 39 terminally ill residents of South Australia have opted to peacefully conclude their lives after being granted the necessary permits.</p> <p><em>Image: Nine News</em></p>

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“My heart is breaking”: The Wiggles perform for dying young fan

<p dir="ltr">The Wiggles have made a young girl’s dreams come true, as they stood by her and performed just hours before she died. </p> <p dir="ltr">Purple Wiggle Lachlan Gillespie, new Blue Wiggle Lucia Field, and Dorothy the Dinosaur visited young Zahra’s bedside in Westmead Children’s Hospital, just before she passed away last month to perform a sweet rendition of <em>Twinkle Twinkle</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Earlier this week, Zahra’s mum posted the sweet video on TikTok, while sharing the story of how Zahra was diagnosed with Leigh syndrome, a rare neurometabolic disorder that affects the central nervous system.</p> <p dir="ltr">“On Zahra’s last day, she got a special visit from her fav Wiggles,” Zahra’s mum wrote in the video shared on her TikTok account. </p> <div class="embed" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: none !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; width: 611px; max-width: 100%; outline: none !important;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7254527205701733633&amp;display_name=tiktok&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40keish_el%2Fvideo%2F7254527205701733633&amp;image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign-sg.tiktokcdn.com%2Fobj%2Ftos-alisg-p-0037%2FoACeAheW25teaIoFQJHPEC2YgpcNAKrzDgaksj%3Fx-expires%3D1689325200%26x-signature%3D8aPR7s6As4g3eiheXA%252B7PmnZSBk%253D&amp;key=59e3ae3acaa649a5a98672932445e203&amp;type=text%2Fhtml&amp;schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p dir="ltr">In the caption, she added, “This day was so special to us, Zahra was obsessed with the Wiggles and for them to come and see her is a memory we will never forget.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She went on to say that on her last day on earth, her doctors and parents gave her “one full day” off the tube where she got to do “all her favourite things with family and friends”, including the Wiggles.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lucia, who is the daughter of original Blue Wiggle Anthony Field, commented, “Lachy and I were so grateful to have met your beautiful family. May your beautiful little girl be happily resting”.</p> <p dir="ltr">The video has racked up over two million views, with many sharing their condolences for the grieving family. </p> <p dir="ltr">One user said, “I can't handle it. I'm so sorry… my heart breaks for you.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Another emotional viewer wrote, “RIP you little angel, you have earned your wings.”</p> <p dir="ltr">One person wrote that they were praying for Zahra and her family, and her grieving mother responded, “Thank you so much for those prayers. I know they would have kept her with us for as long as she could.”</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 18pt;"><em>Image credits: TikTok</em><span id="docs-internal-guid-efb41070-7fff-f887-2ec2-5f55686b6eca"></span></p>

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23-year-old bravely dies on her own terms

<p> A terminally ill young woman from Adelaide has ended her life under the state’s voluntary assisted dying laws.</p> <p>In a funeral notice published in the<em> Adelaide Advertiser</em>, the family of Lily Thai said she died at the Flinders Medical Centre on June 21.</p> <p>“Much loved daughter of Kate and Le. Beloved granddaughter, niece and cousin. Treasured friend to many,” the family wrote.</p> <p>The family have shared that her funeral will be held at Centennial Park Cemetery on June 29.</p> <p>She made the <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/23-year-old-reveals-why-she-s-chosen-to-end-her-life" target="_blank" rel="noopener">heartbreaking decision</a> to take her own life after countless surgeries failed to improve her illness.</p> <p>Thai suffered from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) – a genetic condition that left her completely bedridden and in constant pain.</p> <p>Her powerful story touched thousands nationwide before she passed away.</p> <p>Thai had long wished to take her own life with dignity after a battle with such a debilitating condition.</p> <p>“I decided that pain was so severe it wasn’t worth it, and I just wanted to take it into my own hands,” Thai told the Adelaide Advertiser.</p> <p>After her painful health battle, she spent her last days at the Flinders Medical Centre, where she said she mainly slept while in “excruciating pain”</p> <p>Thai had recently signed the paperwork to use South Australia’s voluntary assisted dying laws, which came into effect in January 2023, to end her life after being administered an IV medication.</p> <p><em>Image credit: The Advertiser / TikTok</em></p>

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23-year-old reveals why she's chosen to end her life

<p>23-year-old Lily Thai has made the crippling decision to end her life.</p> <p>The Adelaide native, who suffers from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), will use recently passed voluntary assisted dying laws after signing the final paperwork a week prior.</p> <p>In January 2023, South Australia legalised assisted dying with the government funnelling in $18 million over the next five years to support safe access to the service.</p> <p>“I realised that I can’t have any more anaesthesia, so I (couldn’t) have any more feeding tube changes (or) surgeries,” Thai told <em>The Advertiser</em>.</p> <p>EDS is a debilitating genetic condition which has left the 23-year-old completely bedridden and in constant pain.</p> <p>It affects her joints, skin and walls of the blood vessels so severely she is reliant on her father as a caregiver to do everything for her, “even the most intimate things”.</p> <p>Doctors will administer an IV medication that will terminate the young woman’s life within 10 seconds.</p> <p>“I’ll no longer have any pain, I will no longer suffer with any of these issues, and I’ll finally be free of all the suffering that I have endured for so many years.”</p> <p>Thai had initially thought her health deterioration was caused by a spinal fluid leak, but after undergoing treatment to fix it, her condition did not improve and doctors couldn’t give her a definitive diagnosis.</p> <p>As a desperate last measure, she travelled to Sydney to meet a surgeon who “specialised in spinal issues (for) patients with EDS” when she was 21.</p> <p>She was then confined to a halo brace and required a nasal feeding tube as she "couldn’t keep anything down,” and weighed just 40kg.</p> <p>In May 2021, Thai had spinal fusion surgery and just a week later was fitted with a gastro Jejenul feeding tube to vent out stomach acid and secretion.</p> <p>Through her rehab period, hospitals were under strict Covid-19 protocols, so Thai suffered alone without any visitors.</p> <p>“I couldn’t stand not seeing my dad, so I got discharged early,” she said.</p> <p>She was later diagnosed with auto-immune autonomic ganglionopathy — a rare condition where the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system.</p> <p>“The neurologist said that I was in multi-organ failure, but it wasn’t until I had a severe decline after one of my surgeries, (and) when I saw my rehab doctor they found a large lesion of the left side of my brain,” she said.</p> <p>“He suspected I had a type of motor neurone disease.”</p> <p>Thai has spent the past two years at Flinders Medical Centre’s Laurel Hospice, where she shared that most of her days are filled with sleep to avoid being in “excruciating pain”.</p> <p>Healthcare staff there granted one of her final wishes, which was to visit a beach, and so they took Thai in the back of an ambulance to the coastline. </p> <p>An image (at top) shows Lily resting on a bed, enjoying her Maccas fries and looking out at the golden sand and blue water in front of her.</p> <p>While at the hospice, Thai also formed a strong bond with another young woman, Annaliese Holland, who was also suffering a terminal illness at the hospice.</p> <p>The pair say young people with a terminal illness often mourn the “life (they) never got to have.”</p> <p>“For elderly or older people, (they) have memories to look back on to laugh about and cry about,” Holland said. “But for a young person in palliative hospice, you haven’t formed many of them.”</p> <p>“You never do the normal things like going to your high school graduation,” Thai said.</p> <p>“What makes me sad is that … you just want to push on, but at the same time it’s really hard because you know you won’t have babies or any of that,” Holland said.</p> <p>Holland has vowed to do everything in her power to make Thai’s last days in hospice more bearable.</p> <p>“All I can do is brush her (Lily’s) hair or moisturise her legs. I just want her to know that I’m there and people care,” a tearful Holland said.</p> <p>Thai has been able to plan parts of her own funeral and has been busy saying goodbye to family and friends.</p> <p>As part of her legacy, she’s inviting donations for palliative research to The Hospital Research Foundation on her memorial card to be given to funeral attendees.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Facebook</em></p>

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People thinking of voluntary assisted dying may be able to donate their organs. We need to start talking about this

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robert-ray-1441988">Robert Ray</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>The number of people needing an organ transplant vastly outweighs the number of organs available.</p> <p><a href="https://www.donatelife.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-02/OTA%202022%20Donation%20and%20Transplantation%20Activity%20Report.pdf">In 2022</a> there were about 1,800 Australians waiting for an organ but only about 1,200 people received an organ transplant.</p> <p>But in <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/imj.16085">a recent paper</a>, I outline one unexplored option for increasing the number of potential organ donors in Australia – transplanting organs from people undergoing voluntary assisted dying. This would involve transplanting organs only after someone had died.</p> <p>It’s estimated <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2616383">about 10%</a> of people eligible for voluntary assisted dying are likely to be medically suitable to donate their organs. Based on <a href="https://www.safercare.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2022-09/Voluntary%20Assisted%20Dying%20Review%20Board%20Report%20of%20Operations%20July%202021-June%2022_FINAL.pdf">Victorian figures</a> alone, this could lead to about an extra 40 potential organ donors each year.</p> <p>This type of organ donation has taken place <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9297969/">for more than 20 years</a> in Europe, and more recently in Canada.</p> <p>Organs transplanted from donors undergoing voluntary assisted dying <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/article-abstract/2769118">have</a> <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajt.16267">similar</a> <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajt.16971">success rates</a> to more traditional donations.</p> <p>Yet, this is a discussion we’ve yet to have in Australia. Here are some of the ethical and practical issues we need to start talking about.</p> <h2>Is this ethical? It’s tricky</h2> <p>The main ethical challenge is ensuring a person isn’t motivated to end their life prematurely so they can donate their organs.</p> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajt.13746">Internationally</a>, <a href="https://jme.bmj.com/content/42/8/486.short">this challenge</a> is mainly addressed by having <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1600613523000291">independent assessments</a> by multiple doctors. This is to ensure the motivation is genuine and honest, much like assessing someone before voluntary assisted dying.</p> <p>Similarly, it is important the doctor of someone undergoing voluntary assisted dying isn’t persuading them to donate an organ. This means any doctor overseeing voluntary assisted dying may be limited in how much they can discuss organ donation with their patient.</p> <p>Again, this <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajt.13746">has been managed internationally</a> by having separate, independent doctors overseeing organ donation and voluntary assisted dying, <a href="https://www.cmaj.ca/content/190/44/E1305.short">without one influencing</a> the other.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/528192/original/file-20230525-27-sjwdaa.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/528192/original/file-20230525-27-sjwdaa.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/528192/original/file-20230525-27-sjwdaa.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=437&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/528192/original/file-20230525-27-sjwdaa.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=437&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/528192/original/file-20230525-27-sjwdaa.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=437&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/528192/original/file-20230525-27-sjwdaa.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=549&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/528192/original/file-20230525-27-sjwdaa.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=549&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/528192/original/file-20230525-27-sjwdaa.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=549&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Elderly woman in bed hand on covers" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Is this what people really want, with so little time left?</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/senior-woman-laying-on-bed-hospital-1054837748">Shutterstock</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Organ donation may also affect the way voluntary assisted dying is conducted, which <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1600613523000291">may impact</a> participants’ very limited quality of life.</p> <p>That’s because determining if someone is eligible to donate an organ involves a number of <a href="https://jme.bmj.com/content/43/9/601.short">investigations</a>. These may include blood tests, radiology (imaging) and numerous clinical encounters to exclude diseases such as cancer, which would prevent someone donating their organs. These investigations may be exhausting but necessary.</p> <p>This burden must be weighed against the participant’s wishes and motivation to donate their organs. So people must also be informed of the impact organ donation will have on their limited life left.</p> <p>The choices of people considering this option must be respected and they must be given multiple opportunities to review their decision, without undue influence or bias.</p> <h2>Practical issues: coordination, location, regulation</h2> <p>Practically, combining organ donation and voluntary assisted dying is <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajt.13746">challenging</a>. This includes the difficulty organising and coordinating specialists in organ donation, voluntary assisted dying and transplantation.</p> <p>This is why, internationally, organ donation of this nature mostly occurs in large hospitals, where it’s easier to coordinate.</p> <p>So if people want to donate an organ this way, they may spend their last moments in an unfamiliar environment.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/528195/original/file-20230525-15-irsqg9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/528195/original/file-20230525-15-irsqg9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/528195/original/file-20230525-15-irsqg9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/528195/original/file-20230525-15-irsqg9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/528195/original/file-20230525-15-irsqg9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/528195/original/file-20230525-15-irsqg9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/528195/original/file-20230525-15-irsqg9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/528195/original/file-20230525-15-irsqg9.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Patient being wheeled on stretcher through hospital corridors" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">People may have to be moved to a large hospital with the facilities and staff on hand.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="source" href="https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/surgeon-assistant-team-transport-move-stretcher-2062330820">Shutterstock</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>Efforts have been made <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/article-abstract/2776765">internationally</a> to prioritise these valuable last moments by giving people the choice of where voluntary assisted dying occurs (<a href="https://www.cmaj.ca/content/190/44/E1305.short">such as their home</a>). But this currently only occurs in a minority of cases and increases the complexity of organ donation.</p> <p>Regulating the process is also essential to developing a safe, trustworthy and effective program. Ideally a centralised organisation such as Australia’s national <a href="https://www.donatelife.gov.au">Organ and Tissue Authority</a> would organise, undertake and regulate this.</p> <p>However, this may be challenging given voluntary assisted dying practices are specific to each state.</p> <h2>The challenges ahead</h2> <p>If someone considering voluntary assisted dying wants to donate their organs and is deemed eligible, there is currently <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/imj.16085">no legal barrier in Australia</a> to stop them.</p> <p>What might prevent them is how their doctor responds, and whether there are the services and organisations willing to fulfil this request ethically and practically.</p> <p>The next step in considering this form of organ donation is to discuss the prospect publicly.</p> <p>Every extra donated organ is potentially lifesaving. So we should make every effort to consider potential safe and ethical ways to increase donation and transplantation rates.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/206298/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/robert-ray-1441988">Robert Ray</a>, Affiliate Associate Lecturer, School of Medicine, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/people-thinking-of-voluntary-assisted-dying-may-be-able-to-donate-their-organs-we-need-to-start-talking-about-this-206298">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Rolf Harris' dying words revealed

<p>Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris spent the final years of his life struggling to eat, walk and communicate as his health rapidly declined.</p> <p>His <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/rolf-harris-cause-and-date-of-death-confirmed" target="_blank" rel="noopener">death</a> at 93 was confirmed on May 23 but it was later revealed his death certificate documented he had passed on May 11 as a result of neck cancer, which he had been suffering from since his release from prison in 2017.</p> <p>An ambulance was spotted outside his home in Berkshire, west of London in May. He lived there with his wife of 65 years, 91-year-old Alwen Hughes, who has Alzheimer’s disease, and both required round-the-clock care.</p> <p>2022 saw the severity of his illness, with author and private investigator William Merrit telling <em>The Daily Mail</em>, “Rolf has been very sick,”</p> <p>Merrit noted that Harris was still “the entertainer” and would “turn into a big kid” as soon as someone walked into the room, trying to “perform on cue even when he’s unwell”.</p> <p>A neighbour told <em>The Telegraph</em> that his health had declined after the death of his poodle, Bumble.</p> <p>“Only carers and nurses, who care for him 24 hours, come and go. I’m told he can’t eat anymore,” the neighbour, Portia Wooderson, said.</p> <p>His dying words have been revealed, with Harris begging his daughter Bindi to make sure his wife receives the proper care.</p> <p><em>News Corp Australia</em> reported a source saying Harris told Bindi, “Look after your mum. I always believed we would go on longer together but, if I go first, promise you’ll take good care of your mum.”</p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty</em></p>

Caring

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Thousands of Tasmanian devils are dying from cancer – but a new vaccine approach could help us save them

<p>Tasmanian devils are tough little creatures with a ferocious reputation. Tragically, each year thousands of Tasmanian devils suffer and die from contagious cancers – devil facial tumours.</p> <p>We have discovered that a modified virus, like the attenuated adenovirus used in the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, can make devil facial tumour cells more visible to the devil immune system.</p> <p>We have also found key immune targets on devil facial tumour cells. These combined advances allow us to move forward with a vaccine that helps the devil immune system find and fight the cancer.</p> <p>And we have a clever way to deliver this vaccine, too – with edible baits.</p> <p><strong>A puzzling cancer</strong></p> <p>Tasmanian devils mainly suffer from the original devil facial tumour, or DFT1. A second type of devil facial tumour (DFT2) has begun emerging in southern Tasmania that further threatens the already endangered devil population.</p> <p>DFT1 and DFT2 are <a href="https://www.tcg.vet.cam.ac.uk/about/DFTD">transmissible cancers</a> – they spread living cancer cells when the devils bite each other.</p> <p>This has presented a puzzle: a cancer cell that comes from another animal should be detected by the immune system as an invader, because it is “genetically mismatched”. For example, in human medicine, tissue transplants need to be genetically matched between the donor and recipient to avoid the immune system rejecting the transplant.</p> <p>Somehow, DFT1 and DFT2 seem to evade the immune system, and devils die from tumours spreading throughout their body or from malnutrition due to the facial tumours disrupting their ability to eat.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/495558/original/file-20221116-12-jv29a8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/495558/original/file-20221116-12-jv29a8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/495558/original/file-20221116-12-jv29a8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/495558/original/file-20221116-12-jv29a8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/495558/original/file-20221116-12-jv29a8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/495558/original/file-20221116-12-jv29a8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/495558/original/file-20221116-12-jv29a8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/495558/original/file-20221116-12-jv29a8.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Close-up of a Tasmanian devil held by human hands, with a tumour on its lower jaw" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">A Tasmanian devil with DFT1.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Andrew S. Flies @WildImmunity</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>On the bright side, the immune systems of a few wild devils <em>have</em> been able to overcome DFT1. Furthermore, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/srep43827">previous vaccine and immunotherapy trials</a> showed the devil immune system can be activated to kill DFT1 cells and clear away sizeable tumours.</p> <p>This good news from both the field and the laboratory has allowed our team to zoom in on key DFT protein targets that the devil immune system can attack. This helps us in our quest to develop a more effective and scalable vaccine.</p> <p><strong>How can we vaccinate wild animals?</strong></p> <p>Even if we succeed in producing a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/14760584.2020.1711058">protective DFT vaccine</a>, we can’t trap and inject every devil.</p> <p>Luckily, clever researchers in Europe in the 1970s figured out that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0003953">vaccines can be incorporated into edible food baits</a> to vaccinate wildlife across diverse landscapes and ecosystems.</p> <p>In 2019, we hypothesised an oral bait vaccine could be made to protect devils from DFT1 and DFT2. Fast forward to November 2022 and the pieces of this ambitious project are falling into place.</p> <p>First, using samples from <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s00432-021-03601-x">devils with strong anti-tumour responses</a>, we have found that the main immune targets are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1098/rsob.220208">major histocompatibility proteins</a>. These are usually the main targets in transplant rejection. This tells us what to put into the vaccine.</p> <p>Second, we tested a virus-based delivery system for the vaccine. We used a weakened adenovirus most of the human population has already been exposed to, and found that in the lab this virus can enter devil facial tumour cells.</p> <p>Importantly, the weakened adenovirus can be modified to produce proteins that can <a href="https://doi.org/10.1099/jgv.0.001812">stimulate the devil immune system</a>. This means it forces the devil facial tumour cells to show the major histocompatibility proteins they normally hide, making the cells “visible” to cancer-killing immune cells.</p> <p>This vaccine approach is much like the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that uses a weakened chimpanzee adenovirus to deliver cargo to our immune system, getting it to recognise SARS-CoV-2. <a href="https://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/nepa/states/US/us-2019-onrab-ea.pdf">Adenoviral vaccines have also been widely used</a> in oral bait vaccines to protect raccoons from the rabies virus.</p> <p><strong>Edible protection</strong></p> <p>But there were additional challenges to overcome. Our collaborators in the USA who research and develop other wildlife vaccines suggested that developing an effective bait for devils might be as challenging as making the vaccine itself.</p> <p>Our first studies of placebo baits in the wild confirmed this. Contrary to previous studies which showed devils eating most of the baits, we found the baits were also readily consumed by other species, including eastern quolls, brushtail possums, and Tasmanian pademelons.</p> <p>This led us to test an automatic bait dispenser supplied by our collaborators at the US Department of Agriculture National Wildlife Research Center. The <a href="https://www.publish.csiro.au/WR/justaccepted/WR22070">dispensers proved quite effective</a> at reducing the amount of “off target” bait consumption and showed devils could successfully retrieve the baits with their dexterous paws.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5BEBfFqOY8k?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Tasmanian devil retrieving a placebo bait from an automatic bait dispenser.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Encouragingly, a recent mathematical modelling study suggests an <a href="https://lettersinbiomath.journals.publicknowledgeproject.org/index.php/lib/article/view/555">oral bait vaccine could eliminate DFT1</a> from Tasmania.</p> <p>Successful delivery of the vaccine would be a demanding and long-term commitment. But with it, we could prevent the suffering and deaths of thousands of individual devils, along with helping to reestablish a healthy wild devil population.</p> <p><strong>Can’t stop now</strong></p> <p>A bit of additional good news fell into place in late 2022 with the announcement that our international team was awarded an Australian Research Council Linkage Project grant to develop better baits and ways to monitor wildlife health in the field.</p> <p>These oral bait vaccine techniques that eliminate the need to catch and jab animals could be applied to future wildlife and livestock diseases, not just Tassie devils.</p> <p>Building on this momentum, we are planning to start new vaccine trials in 2023. We don’t know yet if this new experimental vaccine can prevent devils from getting devil facial tumours.</p> <p>However, the leap we have made in the past three years and new technology gives us momentum and hope that we might be able to stop DFT2 before it spreads across the state. Perhaps, we can even eliminate DFT1.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/194536/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Writen by Andrew S. Flies, </em><em>Chrissie Ong</em><em> and Ruth Pye. Republished with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/thousands-of-tasmanian-devils-are-dying-from-cancer-but-a-new-vaccine-approach-could-help-us-save-them-194536" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Lucid dying - what some patients experience as they’re going through CPR

<p>A study of people who received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in hospital has found that some of them had what’s being dubbed “lucid experiences of death,” accompanied by spikes in brain activity.</p> <p>The research found that roughly one in five CPR survivors described unique experiences, including feeling separated from their bodies, observing the events without pain or distress, and a meaningful evaluation of life.</p> <p>These experiences were different to hallucinations, dreams, or CPR-induced consciousness, according to the researchers, who presented their findings at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022 conference.</p> <p>The international team of researchers collected data on 567 patients whose hearts stopped beating, in UK and US hospitals, between May 2017 and March 2020.</p> <p>While they were all treated immediately, fewer than 10% of these people were ultimately discharged from hospital.</p> <p>In addition to hearing the patients’ experiences, the researchers observed spikes in brain activity – specifically, in so-called gamma, delta, theta, alpha and beta waves.</p> <p>In some cases, these activity spikes were observed when CPR had been going on for up to an hour.</p> <p>“These recalled experiences and brain wave changes may be the first signs of the so-called near-death experience, and we have captured them for the first time in a large study,” says lead investigator Dr Sam Parnia, an intensive care physician and associate professor in the Department of Medicine at New York University Langone Health, US.</p> <p>“Our results offer evidence that while on the brink of death and in a coma, people undergo a unique inner conscious experience, including awareness without distress.”</p> <p>While plenty of people have personal accounts of near-death experiences before, they’re difficult to judge empirically.</p> <p>“These lucid experiences cannot be considered a trick of a disordered or dying brain, but rather a unique human experience that emerges on the brink of death,” says Parnia.</p> <p>It may be linked to disinhibition – the release of barriers in the brain as it shuts down.</p> <p>The researchers are keen to investigate the lucid dying experiences further.</p> <p><strong>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/lucid-dying-cpr/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Ellen Phiddian.</strong></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Mind

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Why does my plant have brown tips on the leaves?

<p><strong>A healthy philodendron plant with green leaves</strong></p> <p>We’ve all been there before. We’re watering our seemingly healthy houseplant when suddenly there it is: a tinge of brown on the plant’s leaf. Yikes. But what do brown tips on leaves mean for your plant, and what can you do to make them go away? Read on to find out.</p> <p><strong>Lack of water or humidity</strong></p> <p>If your plant is sporting crispy, dark, or brown tips on its leaves, it may mean you need to water more often. Check the soil moisture and slowly reduce the number of days in between watering. Watch your plants for signs of improvement.</p> <p>Lack of humidity could also be the cause. Tropical plants prefer higher humidity levels than we have in our homes. When we turn on the heat in winter, there’s even less moisture in the air. Group plants together so that as one loses moisture through its leaves, the neighbours benefit. Or place plants on saucers or trays filled with pebbles and water. Set a pot on the pebbles above the water. As the water evaporates, it will increase the humidity around the plant, where it is needed.</p> <p><strong>Lack of nutrients</strong></p> <p>A lack of key nutrients may be behind the brown tips on leaves of your plant. Burned-looking leaf tips, or old leaves with dark green or reddish-purplish colouring, may indicate a phosphorus deficiency. With a potassium deficiency, you may see yellow or brown along older leaf tips and edges, yellowing between veins, curling leaves, or spotting.</p> <p>For potted plants, add a slow-release type of fertiliser to the soil mix before planting. Every time you water, a little fertiliser is released, providing a steady flow of nutrients. But depending on the growing conditions and number of plants in the container, a midseason boost may be needed. Stay on top of your fertiliser applications by making notes on a calendar.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/gardening-tips/why-does-my-plant-have-brown-tips-on-the-leaves" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Home & Garden

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Our final moments of life have one thing in common

<p dir="ltr">Whatever our beliefs are, a fear of what comes after death can spark anything from mild discomfort for some to a panic attack for others - but the process isn’t quite how we expect or fear.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We live in a death-denying culture,” Dr Merran Cooper, an end-of-life doula and physiotherapist, told <em><a href="https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/final-moments-of-life-have-one-thing-in-common/news-story/b1307a91f646948f0d6cd95c16a631a5" target="_blank" rel="noopener">news.com.au</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">“By denying the possibility we might die, and having conversations about it, we deny ourselves the opportunity to have the most important conversations of our lives with the most important people.”</p> <p dir="ltr">With between three and ten percent of people reporting feelings of being more nervous than others about thoughts of dying according to <a href="https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22830-thanatophobia-fear-of-death" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cleveland Clinic</a>, it’s safe to say thanatophobia or ‘death anxiety’ is a common experience.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though there is fear surrounding the concept of dying, experts who work with death and dying have revealed that it’s more peaceful than we might expect.</p> <p dir="ltr">Camilla Rowland, the CEO of Palliative Care Australia, told <em>news.com.au</em> that her experiences are “usually very peaceful” and that it’s common to feel someone’s ‘spirit’ or ‘energy’ fill the room.</p> <p dir="ltr">“My experience has been that usually as the different organs start to shut down, people come in and out of a semiconscious state, and it is usually very peaceful,” she explained.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’ve had that experience, and also many other members of my palliative care team have said that as well, that they felt the spirit of the person around them. And that’s not necessarily a religious thing, it’s just a feeling that occurs. I’ve had people from all walks of life and all different belief systems say the same thing.”</p> <p dir="ltr">CEO of Touchstone Life Care Dr Merran Cooper shared similar experiences, noting that even if it seems frightening or distressing to someone watching, the person dying is having a different experience.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Everyone dies differently but most commonly, when death is expected, a person begins to sleep more, and breath more shallowly until it is very hard to tell whether they are breathing or not,” Dr Cooper said.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-f67babe3-7fff-0039-815d-201613ccd2f1"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">“It can be a peaceful thing to watch. There are noises that worry the person watching, and even bleeding which is distressing to watch, but for the person dying, they slowly move to a place of deeper and deeper unconsciousness until they do not take the next breath.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

Retirement Life

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Mortali-tea! Black tea drinking linked to lower risk of dying

<p>The health benefits of green tea are well-established, but black tea might be a good idea too, according to a new analysis.</p> <p>The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, draws on data from nearly half a million people to find a link between black tea drinking and lower mortality risk.</p> <p>The researchers, who are based at the US National Institute of Health, examined data from the long-term UK Biobank study, which tracked a cohort of 502,488 UK residents aged between 40 and 69.</p> <p>Between 2006 and 2010, participants in this study regularly logged a range of lifestyle, and health-related information via touchscreens at assessment centres. This information included tea drinking, by number of cups per day.</p> <p>Among the 498,043 participants who logged tea-drinking information, 85% reported regularly drinking tea. Nearly a fifth of participants (19%) reported drinking more than six cups of tea per day.</p> <p>A separate survey of a smaller cohort of participants suggested that 89% of the tea drinkers drank black tea, while 7% drank green tea.</p> <p>According to the UN, the UK consumes around 100,000 tonnes of tea each year – or about 1.5 kilograms per person.</p> <p>The American researchers combined the tea-drinking information in the UK with mortality data.</p> <p>Once they’d adjusted for age and demographics, they found that participants who drank at least two cups of tea per day had a 9-13% lower risk of dying.</p> <p>Drinking 2-3 cups per day was associated with the lowest mortality risk, but even drinking 10 or more cups was linked to a lower mortality risk than drinking no tea at all.</p> <p>In their paper, the researchers say that their findings reflect similar studies based in China and Japan, where green tea is much more common than black.</p> <p>“Fewer studies have assessed tea intake and mortality in populations where black tea is predominantly consumed, such as in the United States and Europe, and results have varied across studies,” write the researchers.</p> <p>They point out, however, that they didn’t track some “potentially important aspects” like tea strength or cup size, making it harder to draw precise conclusions.</p> <p>While the study is observational and thus can’t establish a cause, the researchers point out that the polyphenols and flavonoids in black tea have been linked to a variety of health benefits in small randomized-control trials – including lower cholesterol, and a lower risk of carcinogenesis and type 2 diabetes.</p> <p>“These findings provide reassurance to tea drinkers and suggest that black tea can be part of a healthy diet,” write the researchers.</p> <p><strong>This article originally appeared in <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/health/black-tea-mortality-risk/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Ellen Phiddian.</strong></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Body

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Long Covid sufferer applies for voluntary euthanasia

<p>After suffering with long Covid for over two years, a Canadian woman believes she has been left with no choice but to apply for voluntary euthanasia. </p> <p>Tracey Thompson, a Toronto resident in her 50s, told <a href="https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-woman-enduring-effects-of-long-covid-begins-process-for-medically-assisted-death-1.5976944" target="_blank" rel="noopener" data-link-type="article-inline">CTV News</a> she had begun the process of applying for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), due to extreme fatigue and a lack of financial support.</p> <p>Tracey used to work long hours as a chef, but has been unable to work for the last 26 months, with no foreseeable end to her forced unemployment.</p> <p>“(MAiD) is exclusively a financial consideration,” she said.</p> <p>“My choices are basically to die slowly and painfully, or quickly. Those are the options that are left.”</p> <p>As well as a lack of financial support, Tracey has experienced long Covid symptoms such as severe fatigue, blurred vision, difficulty digesting food, difficulty breathing, an altered sense of taste and smell, and scars on her heart from swelling due to myocarditis.</p> <p>While health experts say long Covid is difficult to diagnosis, it is estimated that five percent of those who contract the virus will go on to have long term symptoms. </p> <p>Tracey also told CTV that she now struggles to get up and look after herself, which is very different to her previous fast paced life in a physically demanding job. </p> <p>“From being able-bodied and employed to basically bed-bound,” she said.</p> <p>“I can’t get up on average for 20-plus hours. I have very little capacity to expend the energy physically, mentally and emotionally, so I try to stay home all the time.”</p> <p>But Thompson stressed she still enjoys life and doesn’t want to die, but doesn’t think she could survive without an income.</p> <p>“I still enjoy life. Birds chirping, small things that make up a day are still pleasant to me, they’re still enjoyable. I still enjoy my friends. There’s a lot to enjoy in life, even if it’s small,” she said.</p> <p>“But I don’t relish the idea of suffering for months to come to the same conclusion."</p> <p>“When support is not coming, things aren’t going to change. It seems irrational to put myself through that just to die in the end.”</p> <p>While Tracey is unsure if she would be eligible for the Ontario Disability Support Program, she believes the maximum monthly payment would only just cover her rent, leading her to apply for the drastic action of voluntary euthanasia. </p> <p>In Canada, you do not need to have a terminal illness to be eligible for MAiD, but rather have an illness that “cannot be relieved under conditions that you consider acceptable”.</p> <p>Thompson said she was confident she would get approval.</p> <p>“As best I know, I would meet the criteria,” she said.</p> <p>"I'm very ill. There is no treatment. There is no cure."</p> <p><em>Image credits: CTV</em></p>

Caring

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Lisa Curry shares daughter Jaimi's dying wish

<p>Lisa Curry has shared the dying wish of her daughter Jaimi that was unable to be fulfilled before her death. </p> <p>In an emotional interview with <a href="https://www.nowtolove.com.au/celebrity/celeb-news/lunch-with-lisa-curry-73709" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Women's W</em>eekly</a>, the former Olympian remembered the life and dreams of her beloved daughter. </p> <p>"Jaimi wanted to write a book to help others, but it was too late. We left it too late," the 60-year-old told the magazine.</p> <p>"But I hope that, by being honest and knowing that Jaimi wanted to help others, we can help in some way, in some small way."</p> <p>The revelation comes almost two years after Jaimi's death, as she passed away in 2020 at age 33 from an undisclosed health battle. </p> <p>In Lisa's recently published memoir, <em>Lisa: A Memoir - 60 Years of Life, Love &amp; Loss</em>, she revealed that Jaimi had been fighting a lot of personal demons before her untimely death. </p> <p>While staying by her daughter's side until the very end, Lisa admitted that it was "exhausting" worrying about Jaimi, as she also had to care for her two other children: daughter Morgan, 31, and son Jett, 28, who she shares with ex-husband Grant Kenny.</p> <p>"You can't live your life for one child. You have three children and they are all the world to you, and that's why I have to be really conscious of my self-care, so that I can be there for them and the grandchildren," Curry explained.</p> <p>"But bloody hell it's hard. Morgan and Jett are really understanding."</p> <p>In a previous interview with <em>Today</em>, Lisa said she will continue to tell both the good and bad sides of Jaimi's story to help others who may also be battling similar demons. </p> <p>"Some people are struggling every single day. Their body, their mind, is screaming, but no-one is hearing. Then there is people like Jaimi who just can't get through," she said. </p> <p>Despite the overwhelming grief, Lisa said she gets by knowing Jaimi's spirit is still around. </p> <p>"She's never far away, you know. She's always around, somehow."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram</em></p>

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