Australia’s oldest scientist has died after flying to Switzerland to end his life by assisted suicide.
Despite not having a terminal illness, David Goodall, who was 104, believed his quality of life had deteriorated and he secured a fast-track appointment with an assisted dying agency in Basel, reigniting the end-of-life debate.
An assisted suicide group confirmed this afternoon the scientist had passed away and doctors told MailOnline his last words were: “This is taking an awful long time.”
Prof Goodall’s family were at his bedside when he flicked a switch to send the lethal injection coursing round his body.
Beethoven’s Ode to Joy played as his relatives wept and the world-renowned ecologist closed his eyes and died within two minutes.
The 104-year-old was meant to turn a wheel to release the Nembutal, but when he couldn’t do it, doctors replaced it with a switch.
This meant he had to be asked mandatory questions for a second time, including his name, his date of birth, why he was at the clinic and what he understood would happen to him, to which he replied: “‘I hope my heart stops,” according to MailOnline.
Talking to ABC on his 104th birthday in April, the ecologist said: “I greatly regret having reached that age.
“I’m not happy. I want to die. It’s not sad particularly. What is sad is if one is prevented.
“My feeling is that an old person like myself should have full citizenship rights including the right of assisted suicide.”
Prof Goodall made headlines in 2016 when his university tried to force him from his role on the grounds that, at the age of 102, he was no longer fit to be on campus.
Assisted suicide is illegal in most countries around the world and was banned in Australia until the state of Victoria became the first to legalise the practice last year.
But that legislation, which takes effect from June 2019, only applies to terminally ill patients of sound mind and a life expectancy of less than six months.
Other states in Australia have debated euthanasia in the past, but the proposals have always been defeated, mostly recently in New South Wales state last year.
Exit International, which helped Mr Goodall make the trip, said a the beginning of the month it was unjust that one of Australia’s “oldest and most prominent citizens should be forced to travel to the other side of the world to die with dignity”.
“A peaceful, dignified death is the entitlement of all who want it. And a person should not be forced to leave home to achieve it,” it said on its website.
The group then launched a GoFundMe campaign to get plane tickets for Goodall and his helper upgraded to business class from economy.
Prof Goodall, an honorary research associate at Perth’s Edith Cowan University, fought attempts to banish him from the campus two years ago.
After an uproar and support from scientists globally, the decision was reversed.
He produced dozens of research papers and until recently continued to review and edit for different ecology journals.