Profiad dyn a helpodd ei gymar i deithio i glinig yn y Swistir lle cafodd gymorth i farw. The experience of a man who helped his wife travel to an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland.
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This man went abroad with his seriously ill wife...
..so that she could end her life.
He then had to wait before hearing whether he would face jail.
I helped someone to die.
That's against the law.
People should be entitled to do it in their own homes...
..with their own families...
..instead of having to travel to Switzerland or somewhere else.
Tonight he talks about his experiences with his life partner...
..and shares his feelings on this controversial subject.
The purpose of the legislation is to protect the vulnerable.
I think it would put huge pressure on older people...
..who feel they're a burden on their families...
..and that they want to die.
The slopes of Kilimanjaro...
..where Aled and Janet Owen are on an adventure.
This is Camp Two, and we're in the most amazing place.
We're looking at the peak from here and it's absolutely beautiful.
Nine months after reaching the peak of Africa's highest mountain...
..Janet Owen was facing a greater challenge...
..which would lead her to ask her husband of 30 years...
..to help her to kill herself.
She was seemingly healthy, but things weren't right.
We were walking in the mountains and she'd fall over.
She was running strangely in the gym.
She worked for Rape Crisis...
..and she started to take down telephone messages incorrectly.
She got the numbers in the wrong order, and things like that.
She went to the doctor and luckily...
..this doctor had worked with an MS specialist...
..and said she should go to the hospital to be tested.
The news was not good.
A week before the couple were filmed visiting their daughter in Japan...
..Janet was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, MS.
They were determined not to let it interfere with their lives...
..as many people live with the condition for many years...
..without experiencing many symptoms.
But that's not how it worked out.
She tried chemotherapy, she tried steroids...
..she tried other drugs, but nothing helped.
Nothing at all.
She was deteriorating faster than majority of sufferers we now know.
In three years, she went from someone who could climb mountains...
..and reach the peak of Kilimanjaro...
..to somebody who used a wheelchair.
In her cottage in Penmachno, Conwy...
..Janet Owen found it difficult to accept her rapid deterioration.
She had been an energetic person, with many interests to fill her time.
She was multi-talented. She sang and drew.
Here's her painting of Capel Garmon.
And here's another one of just below Moel Siabod.
She painted many pictures.
I've got pictures of us on the computer.
Here we are under the Matterhorn.
She's singing here and here she is...
..playing the Fairy Queen in Iolanthe...
..at Rhos-on-Sea Savoyards, about 10 years ago.
As she was so fit, it must've been extremely frustrating...
..when she was unable to do things.
That was the biggest thing.
Had she been prepared to sit in front of the television...
..every day, I'm sure she'd be here now.
But this is what she did.
She walked, cycled, painted, sang, performed. That was her life.
Janet Owen, who once worked with people with Alzheimer's...
..had said she wanted to end her life in Switzerland's Dignitas clinic...
..if she ever suffered from a similar condition.
Despite the MS, they travelled the world on a tandem...
..and they went travelling with Janet in a wheelchair.
We went to Istanbul, Helsinki, Holland, Belgium and France.
We were trying to do things that were different...
..even though she was in a wheelchair.
To be honest, she said the final five years of her life...
..were the best five years.
But after returning home from a difficult trip to Yorkshire...
..Janet realised she wouldn't be able to travel again...
..and she would soon be housebound.
That was the end of our travelling.
We stopped going out to the opera.
About a week after that she said, "I'm going to Dignitas."
When you heard those words, so final, how did you feel?
That was a shock.
I remember crying... but it was impossible to do anything about it.
She wanted to go, so I wanted to help her.
We contacted the children, Richard and Sian.
I'm not sure how Richard took it.
I think it's difficult for men to take in such emotions.
But Janet was speaking to Sian almost every day on Skype.
Sian understood what was going on.
Did they try and persuade you not to go...
..or ask you to stop Janet?
No, they knew their mother.
If Janet wanted to do something, she was determined.
There was no way you'd change her mind.
As I said, Sian understood how Janet felt...
..but I don't know about Richard. He found it very hard.
He found it very hard.
It is illegal in Britain...
..for a chronically or terminally ill person...
..to receive support to end their lives.
It is legal in some countries...
..like Japan, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Some say Britain should not emulate these countries...
..as it goes against the basic principle of life...
..that to kill is to kill.
Life is God's gift and I don't think anyone has the right...
..to assist someone's suicide.
There are other ways of helping people who are in severe pain.
There is also a moral issue - for whose benefit is this suicide?
I can imagine the elderly believing they're a burden on their families..
..and deciding, "I want help to kill myself...
"..because I think I'm a burden on my family."
I can see some families, of course, putting pressure on the elderly...
..to do that.
There are also concerns beyond the religious.
Some physicians say it would change the relationship...
..between doctor and patient.
According to one palliative care expert...
..it's the doctor's duty to save lives and treat pain...
..not to end a life.
It's very difficult to predict how long a patient has to live.
Even when we think a patient has only days left to live...
..3% of the time, we're wrong.
The changes that have been suggested expect us to predict...
..when someone has six or 12 months to live.
Another concern is that in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal...
..there's evidence to suggest that one in six patients...
..who have taken drugs to end their lives...
..were suffering from depression which was undiagnosed.
At the moment, doctors can only help ease a patients' pain.
As medical science develops to prolong life...
..and treat a variety of conditions, things aren't always black and white.
We do discuss with the patient and the family what's appropriate.
The truth is that sometimes, unintentionally...
..you can do wrong by trying to do good.
I don't think any doctor dealing with such patients...
..can swear that they haven't ever prolonged a patient's life...
..whether that's by seconds or minutes...
..by administering drugs to ease another symptom, for instance.
It's inevitable that we sometimes prolong life.
Out intentions are good.
Those in favour of changing the law argue...
..that what some doctors cite isn't so different...
..from the terminally ill patient's viewpoint...
..when the individual wants assurances they won't suffer.
Having this right in Britain would ease fears...
..and could be beneficial, according to Janet Owen's husband.
I know she always said she wouldn't use a walking frame...
..but she did.
She wasn't going to use a wheelchair, but she did.
She was never going to use a catheter, but she did.
I think sometimes the fear of what was going to happen...
..was worse than the thing itself.
It's quite possible if she could have taken her life here...
..she would have decided to live longer...
..and possibly she wouldn't have taken her life at all.
At 54-years-old, Janet Owen made the decision in April 2009.
She planned to go to Switzerland the following November...
..before she was too weak, but she needed her husband's help to travel.
It was such an emotionally difficult situation...
..she didn't tell many of her intentions...
..and didn't say her goodbyes to some.
Janet was about to leave her life and community...
..knowing she'd never see them again.
I took Janet to the hairdressers every Friday.
We went to see him and changed the date to the Tuesday morning.
We said we were going to Switzerland.
He asked, "Are you coming back on the Friday?"
"I'm not coming back."
That was terrible for him. He was the only one who knew.
We didn't see the children at all...
..between making the decision and flying out in November.
Switzerland is the only country which allows foreigners...
..with terminal illnesses to go there for help to die.
The controversial and non-profit making body, Dignitas...
Since 1998, at least 117 Britons have ended their lives here...
..at a cost of £7,000 each.
Janet Owen came to this unit on an industrial estate.
After arriving, doctors make sure the patient is secure of mind...
..and understands the implications of drinking the medicine.
Janet was determined.
We didn't talk or say goodbye.
We just got on with what was happening.
There was no point dragging it out. It was going to happen.
We got there at around ten o'clock...
..and she took the...
..the thing, the stuff at around eleven, I think.
She died around one o'clock.
This stuff is quite bitter.
You have chocolate...
..and there were two things she said.
She was just going to sleep and they used a tissue...
..to stop the chocolate coming out of her mouth.
She said, "Nobody's going to have my chocolate."
And then she said, "Give my love to the kids."
Those were her last words.
The following day, Aled Owen traveledhome to Penmachno...
..on his own, leaving his wife's body to be cremated...
Hardly anyone knew what had happened.
It was terrible. I was lucky that I wasn't sharing a seat with anyone.
That was terrible.
I was crying and...
..well, it felt...
..odd, to come home on my own.
It didn't hit my until I got home.
I came into the house and there was no-one there...
..and I had a community meeting on the night I came home.
I remember phoning someone on the committee and I couldn't speak.
I couldn't speak at all.
They came in and I was crying. It was terrible.
But some say there is a better way of dealing with the end of a life...
..which shows respect to everyone, no matter what their disability.
There's no need to change the law, just improve our services.
At St David's Hospice in Llandudno, patients can come on a day visit...
..or they can stay during their last days or weeks.
There is support available.
I understand when people are afraid.
We are all afraid of facing our last days.
But I think a lot of patients are afraid of dying in pain.
There are ways to help that these days.
Things have changed, there is better medical care these days...
..and not just physical pain either...
..but spiritual and emotional.
There are therapists to help with that.
When someone receives bad news, they feel very low...
..and everything seems bleak, but when they meet people...
..and see there is support available...
..people can get through that.
They should have said from the beginning...
..that there was nothing they could do...
..apart from ease the symptoms a little.
While Ifan Pritchard was suffering from cancer and Parkinson's...
..his wife looked after him at their home in Nefyn.
But as his condition deteriorated...
..they had a place at St David's Hospice.
From the very first minute we were there...
..there was some hope.
Not a hope of recovery...
..but there was hope there.
There was a peace I can't explain.
It was a feeling of love. You were aware of the care they provided.
He stayed at the hospice on three occasions...
..including the last seven weeks of his life.
His wife was allowed to stay until the end.
I felt there had been a change...
..and the sister from the ward was there with me.
Both of us were in tears when he left us.
I could stay with him for as long as I wanted afterwards.
He went very quietly in the end.
After the care her husband received...
..Katie Pritchard is not in favour of changing the law.
Ifan was given support until the end...
..at the hospice.
But he was also given support to live those last few days...
..and weeks, and I lived them with him.
We spent some very valuable time together...
..and some very happy time.
That support was provided when he died...
..and that's what I think assisted death should be.
By assisting them to live.
But not everyone wants the same thing.
As people live longer and medical practice prolongs life...
..some argue that the individual should have the right decide.
Your body belongs to you.
You should decide how you want to end it.
Liz Beynon worked as a nursing assistant for 20 years.
Hello, Mam. It's me.
Are you alright?
Do you want anything now?
She now looks after her mother...
..who still lives at home in Pencader, Carmarthenshire.
She's seen many suffering from terminal illnesses...
..with no quality of life.
Is there any point being alive and have someone feed you...
..while not being able to talk to anyone?
Someone having to wash you and dress you...
..and you don't even know what day or time it is?
People shouldn't live like that.
I wouldn't want to live like that.
If she suffers from a terminal illness in the future...
..she wants the right to an assisted death.
If the law isn't changed, she'll do it herself.
If the treatment doesn't work...
..I wouldn't want to go on.
It's up to them. I don't know what's going to happen.
I know what I would do, but I'm not going to tell you that.
But the law has got to protect the most vulnerable in society.
One expert says that would be difficult if the law changed.
It wouldn't protect those who are vulnerable or disabled.
In a way, I don't think it's possible...
..to be certain...
..that everyone is protected.
What the English call a 'slippery slope'.
If you allow one thing, you can start to slip down the slope...
..and allow things you hadn't originally planned to.
One or two will slip through the net...
..and mistakes are inevitable, aren't they?
On the other hand, hundreds of people live...
..with a terrible quality of life.
Some of them want to end their lives.
By helping his wife, Aled broke the law.
He voluntarily told the police everything.
I was open with them.
Two or three months later...
..I had to give a statement to the police under caution.
But they didn't arrest me.
Following the ruling of the Law Lords in 2009...
..the Director of Public Prosecutions...
..announced what circumstances could lead to the prosecution...
..of a person who has helped a patient die.
Aled Owen will not be prosecuted.
You must have the checks and balances.
The CPS has around 20 guidelines to check...
..to make sure you're not taking advantage of anyone.
It's still against the law to do it...
..but it's not in the public interest to take it forward.
I think that's right.
Janet was cremated in Zurich and there's no grave here.
There's nothing here.
I built a memorial at the top...
..where I can go to remember her...
..and to bury her ashes.
I'm sure she left us too early...
..when she was fit.
If you could do it here...
..I'm sure she would have waited.
That's all I'd like to see happen.
You should have the right to do it in your own home...
..with your family, instead of travelling to Switzerland...
..or somewhere else.
If you want more information or details on tonight's subject...
..call our helpline on 0800 83 44 44.
The calls are free from BT landlines...
..and the lines will be open for a week.
And there's more information at www.S4C.co.uk/help
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Profiad dyn a helpodd ei gymar i deithio i glinig yn y Swistir lle cafodd gymorth i farw. Mae Aled Owen yn galw am newid yn y gyfraith i wneud pethau'n haws i bobl mewn sefyllfa debyg. The experience of a man who helped his wife travel to an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland. Aled Owen calls for a change in the law to make it easier for others in a similar situation.