Woman gets 'do not resuscitate' tattooed on chest
Thu, 11 Dec 2008 12:00a.m.
A 79-year-old Dunedin woman is making sure medical staff get the message by getting a bold tattoo on her chest.
In the event of a stroke or heart attack those trying to help will be met with the words "do not resuscitate."
Paula Westoby is a 79-year-old Dunedin grandmother and is determined not to be resuscitated if she has a heart attack or stroke.
Westoby's a member of exit international, a group that supports voluntary euthanasia.
Having caught the media's attention, now she's hoping to do the same with the politicians.
"The liberalisation of the law changed - that's our basic thing, and to have some choice over when and how we die," says Westoby.
The New Zealand bill of rights states that everyone has the right to refuse medical treatment. But seriously ill people often can't express themselves.
"In many instances those wishes are not respected - that a person has their wishes ignored because of the seriousness and sometimes the urgency of the medical situation and that's a problem that she's highlighting," says Dr Philip Nitschke.
But Bioethics Professor, Donald Evans, says hospital staff could be confused by the tattoo.
"But the problem is when did she have it done? Did she have it done under any type of pressure? Has she changed her mind since she's had it done?," says Professor Evans.
Westoby says she's trying to highlight the wider issue of suicide by giving people the right to choose for themselves -how and when they die.
"It's not easy to kill yourself, but when you've had enough and you're sick of things and goodness knows why you want to carry on living in a terrible way? Of course you don't".
For Westoby - it's a matter of fighting not so much for her life, but a dignified death.
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