Paralysed man begs officials to let him die

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 12:00am

A quadriplegic yesterday sought the help of legislators to end his life, writing to them about his 'endless wait' for death.

The letter from the paralysed man, who did not give his name, was discussed at the Legislative Council health services panel meeting yesterday.

'The greatest respect to a human being is not to sustain a life for whatever reasons, but to respect people's personal choices,' the 34-year-old said.

He injured his spine while somersaulting during rehearsals for a graduation ceremony on June 16, 1991. He has since been paralysed from the neck down, unable to walk or speak, breathing through a hole in his throat. He types using chopsticks held in his mouth.

'I spend my whole day on the bed, I need other people's help to eat, urinate, clean my body, turn around and sleep. I am totally useless. I am a financial and mental burden to my family.'

He said he could not bear to see his ailing father visit him every day in hospital. His breathing machine costs the family $10,000 a year.

'I watch the clock tick every day. What am I waiting for? I am waiting for death. I want to put an end to this endless waiting, but I don't even have the ability to kill myself. I have to live with loneliness, helplessness and pain every day.'

The man said he had asked his doctors to grant his request. He also sought help from Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, who referred his letter to the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau. 'Two weeks later, I received an e-mail from an assistant secretary who fudged [his response to] my request,' he said.

Panel chairman Michael Mak Kwok-fung appealed to the man to rethink his plans. 'I hope we can pass on the message to him that life is still full of hope.'