I Helped 50 People Die, Says Euthanasia Doctor

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), July 20, 1997 | Go to article overview
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I Helped 50 People Die, Says Euthanasia Doctor


Byline: Christopher Leake

AN eminent doctor faces criminal prosecution and being brought before the General Medical Council after admitting that he has helped at least 50 people die.

Dr Michael Irwin, a former medical director of the United Nations, says that in more than half the cases, including two in the past six months, he personally administered a lethal morphine injection.

But the doctor, from Hove, East Sussex, who is chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, says his `conscience is clear'. He described in an interview how he had injected morphine overdoses and supplied a plastic bag to asphyxiate a terminally-ill patient.

He administered 20 times the normal dose of the sedative temazepam to a woman suffering from motor neurone disease who had wanted to die.

He also supplied a plastic bag he bought for [pounds sterling]20 from a `right to die' society in Canada. The bag is see-through and has an adhesive neck seal.

After patients fall into a coma, they become unconscious as the oxygen runs out, then stop breathing in what Dr Irwin claims is a painless death.

In a second case, Dr Irwin admitted administering an overdose of morphine to a female cancer patient.

Both women took about 30 minutes to die. Dr Irwin said their family doctors knew what had happened and both deaths were recorded as natural.

He added that he realised that, under section two of the 1961 Suicide Act, he could be jailed for up to 14 years if he `aids, abets, counsels or procures the suicide of another'.

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