World Media

David Goodall: Scientist, 104, ends his life in Switzerland

Precious time Dr Goodall speaks to his grandchildren and their partners about some of the plants displayed in the gardens

David Goodall, The Australian scientist, who went to Switzerland to commit legal suicide has gotten his wish.

It differs from euthanasia, which is a third-party intervention to end a life to relieve suffering, such as when a doctor administers the lethal dose.

Mr Goodall's last meal was his favourite - fish and chips and cheesecake - and in his final minutes he was played Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th symphony.

The grandfather of 12 had attracted over $20,000 (Rs 13 lakh approximately) in donations from the public to help fund his journey to Europe from Australia earlier this month. "My abilities have been declining over the past year or two, and my eyesight for the past five or six years, and I no longer want to continue life", Goodall said. Since Monday, he's had consultations with doctors, including a psychiatrist, and was visited by the Swiss police.

A long-time member of Philip Nitschke's Exit International organisation, Dr Goodall was able to find support for his request for assisted suicide overseas. "What's the use of that?" said the scientist, who appeared to have lost none of his sense of humor on Tuesday, wearing a top inscribed with the words "Aging Disgracefully".

Critics have said that Goodall's death was not simply a personal choice, but a political one that could have devastating consequences on vulnerable populations such as the elderly, the poor, and the disabled.

The British-born professor spent some time in France visiting more family before arriving in Basel for his assisted voluntary death.

Dr Nitschke, the founder of euthanasia advocacy group Exit International, said Dr Goodall's case was one of the firsts of its kind because, despite being frail, he does not have a terminal illness and is generally healthy.

The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg permit euthanasia and assisted suicide.

He did not a funeral, remembrance service or ceremony to take place as he had "no belief in the afterlife", Exit International said.

He said he would have preferred to die in Australia and previously voiced his resentment over the country's laws.

Goodall was an honorary research associate at Perth's Edith Cowan University, and had produced dozens of research works.

Goodall, on the other hand, was not terminally ill. The incident sparked worldwide discussion about the treatment of elderly workers, and the university subsequently reversed its decision.

Dr Goodall will reportedly die at 10am local time (9am United Kingdom time) at a clinic in an undisclosed location, with four family members and a close friend by his side. "I was a bit sorry to say goodbye to my family in Bordeaux but that's the way it was". "And I'm very happy to end it".

"Everyone over middle age should have the right unquestioned to end their lives as and when they choose, but we have quite a way to go in Australia for that", he said.