Smiths Falls man is granted request for medically-assisted suicide
Published Wednesday, August 3, 2016 5:21PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, August 3, 2016 6:37PM EDT
A Smiths Falls family says the government’s new law on assisted dying gave their father hope in his last days struggling with a terminal disease. Now they're honoring his wish to speak out in support of the law for other families in need.
JP Campbell died a week ago today after a lethal injection administered by a doctor. His struggles with ALS over, his wish to end the pain honored.
JP Campbell was the voice of C-JET radio for years, the Smiths Falls country station where he worked as a DJ.
Now he's using his voice, through his daughter, one last time to talk about doctor assisted suicide and what the federal government's new bill meant for him.
“This interview (with CTV) was one of the last things he wanted,” explains his daughter April Poelstra, “right up until the doctor gave him the medication. He said make sure it gets out there. He wanted everybody to know it (medically-assisted suicide) was possible and it can be done.”
Campbell was diagnosed in November with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, a horrible progressive neurological disorder with no cure.
“He did not want to live if he couldn’t walk or talk,” says Poelstra.
So Campbell told his family he wanted a medically assisted suicide under Canada's new law and after jumping through several hurdles, Campbell's daughter made it happen, with the assistance of two doctors from Brockville.
Bill C-14, the federal government's doctor assisted suicide law, just got Royal Assent in June of this year, seven months after JP Campbell’s diagnosis and just six weeks before he would actually die. He was 63 years old.
The bill been hugely controversial - with concerns it would lead to hundreds of requests or that people in northern or rural communities would be left out.
The organization Dying with Dignity Canada says it speaks volumes that someone in small town Smiths Falls was able to access it.
“It was probably difficult in this case for this family,” says Susan Desjardins, with Dying with Dignity Canada, “but they had that conversation with their father and he made it clear what he wanted and they had peace of mind knowing that he could decide when he wanted his life to end and not to go through those terrible final moments necessarily.”
After a lot of questions and a lot of paperwork, J.P. Campbell got his wish: to die peacefully and painlessly, surrounded by family.
“It gave him hope in his last few days,” says April Poelstra.
There's quite a legal process to follow before these requests are granted and after; something that Campbell's family struggled with given the circumstances but something they completely understand as well. The organization Dying with Dignity Canada says these stories serve as good opportunities for families to talk about these situations before they arise and have an advanced care directive in place just in case.