Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Saskatoon Man Calls for Changes to Assisted-Dying Law after Wife's Death

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Saskatoon Man Calls for Changes to Assisted-Dying Law after Wife's Death

Article excerpt

Saskatoon man calls for changes to assisted-dying law

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David Dunn sat beside his wife, held her in his arms and watched as she slowly died from a drug overdose in their apartment.

Cecilia Bernadette Chmura was 59 years old and, for more than 20 years, had suffered from fibromyalgia, a chronic syndrome that leads to muscle pain.

Dunn said Chmura's condition had deteriorated in the last five years. Her pain was excruciating and her quality of life was horrible.

His wife of more than 30 years spent hours in bed, sometimes only making it out for supper.

Medical marijuana brought the pain down and morphine pills made her dopey, but she was never pain free.

"The pain was unbearable," Dunn said on the phone from his home in Saskatoon. "Death could not be any worse than her life, unfortunately."

Chmura told her kids last July that she had applied for a medically assisted death.

When she received a phone call last fall saying that she didn't qualify because she wasn't within six months of imminent death, she was devastated.

"That was a really bad day for her," Dunn said. "She sobbed constantly the rest of that day. It was horrible."

Dunn said Chmura researched how to end her life and on Jan. 18, he heard the coffee grinder start up.

She had put her medication in it. She ate the grounds with some pudding and washed them down with vodka and orange juice.

It took Chmura two hours and 15 minutes to die.

Dunn said he didn't know whether his wife's attempt to end her life would work and he thought about calling 911 if she kept breathing.

When emergency services showed at their apartment after Chmura's death, Dunn was taken to the police station to provide a statement.

After seeing what his wife went through, he is calling for changes to the federal law that governs doctor-assisted dying.

He said he wants to see it become more inclusive, so that "people like Cec can access that, people of sound mind that have jumped through all the hoops and just want to end their suffering. …

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