Scots should have right to die, says Edinburgh physicist

Chris Saltmarsh is a retired physicist from the Broughton area of Edinburgh.

Chris Saltmarsh says Scots should have the right to die if there is "no way out."

He was diagnosed with throat cancer at the end of last year and had surgery - a laryngectomy - at St John's Hospital in Livingston in January. Mr Saltmarsh is in hospital recovering from a secondary operation.

He says the option of assisted dying should be available if there is "no way out."

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The 70-year-old, who lives with partner Desi and has three grown-up children, has spent weeks in hospital dealing with surgery and aftermath, including a stoma in his neck.

“I was finding out how to breathe easily, what to do, how to maintain this new hole in my neck, how to speak again, how to start learning to eat and drink," he said.

He now has a kit of various devices to get by on a daily basis, mainly to clean the stoma.

“The reason I want Dignity in Dying laws is not because I'm there now - far from it - but it should be in place if things get worse and there is no way out," he said.

"I am nowhere near needing to end my life now - too much to live for, despite the cancer.

"But I feel for others, and perhaps for my future self. If it makes sense for someone, then it should be a respected decision, and it certainly has crossed my mind. I think the important thing is to know there is a door there, if you need it, that you can go through without calumny.

"And then you probably won't want to. It is just knowing that it is there. If the option of living is not there, just despair and pain, people should have rights.”

Mr Saltmarsh said that recovering during lockdown was "hard”.

But he said: "With the support of my friends and family and the fabulous NHS team, I got through it. Now, I can eat and enjoy some food. I must go slow, as air goes down as well. Some things have got easier. Some things are becoming real - this I must do for all of my life, now.”

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