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Euthanisia prof helped SA doc die

Sean Davison, the professor who recently helped a SA doctor end his life, said he would not be willing to assist in euthanasia again. File picture: Henk Kruger

Sean Davison, the professor who recently helped a SA doctor end his life, said he would not be willing to assist in euthanasia again. File picture: Henk Kruger

Published Sep 22, 2014

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Johannesburg - Sean Davison, the professor who helped his mother commit suicide, recently helped a South African doctor end his life, his spokeswoman said on Monday.

“I can confirm that he did help Dr (Anrich) Burger,” An Wentzel told Sapa.

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According to quotes from a speech given by Davison at the World Federation of Right to Die Societies' annual conference in Chicago, United States, on Thursday, he mentioned working with Burger.

Burger became a “CyberDoc” on Health24, after he was left quadriplegic following an accident in 2005. Burger died in November last year.

“He asked me to be part of his plan, and I became his co-conspirator over the several months that passed before we could effect his plan,” Davison said in his speech.

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“During that time, he often told me that he was feeling more at peace knowing he had an exit strategy in place, and he was sleeping peacefully for the first time.”

According to a statement from Wentzel, Davison said after his speech: “Not all quadriplegics want to die, but those who do want to, should have the option.”

Wentzel said Davison would comment on the matter once he returned to South Africa on Friday.

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When asked whether Davison was aware that he could face criminal charges, she said: “He is aware of that, but he believes in the cause of Dignity SA (the organisation he founded)”.

Davison took a welcome message from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to the US conference. Tutu had been invited, but was unable to attend.

“Davison spoke about the work Dignity SA is doing in SA, and the ongoing lobby for a law change to allow assisted dying in terminally-ill people,” Wentzel said.

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“However, from comments made by Davison, it seems Dignity SA is also now working with quadriplegics.”

Davison returned to South Africa from New Zealand in May 2012, after serving a five-month detention for helping his mother, who had cancer, to end her life.

She initially tried going on a hunger strike, but when that failed he gave her a lethal dose of morphine.

Davison pleaded guilty to assisted suicide in the Dunedin High Court, New Zealand, in 2011. He was originally charged with attempted murder, and was arrested in September 2010.

Davison was elected to the federation's board at its conference.

“Africa is a continent of over one billion people, and it is very important that we have representation at the highest level of this organisation,” he said in his speech.

“Dignity SA is confident that we will succeed in changing the law in South Africa, and by doing so create a model for change in other African countries.”

Sapa

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