Quadriplegic who won 'right to die' dead

Adieu to living hell

“Christian Rossiter, 49, succumbed to a chest infection,” his brother Tim said in a statement. “I thank all those who have made Christian’s life, in his final years, as comfortable and as dignified as possible,” the statement said.

Rossiter, who broke his spine in 2004 in a road accident and was left a spastic quadriplegic after a fall last year, had described his life as “a living hell”. In mid-August, the Australian state Supreme Court ruled that Rossiter’s nursing home in the west coast city of Perth must respect his decision to starve to death.

“Death I suspect comes as quite a relief for Christian,” Rossiter’s lawyer, John Hammond, told Seven Network television. “I think Christian will be remembered as someone who was very brave and took up a fight which will give a lot of people comfort.”

The Seven Network reported that Rossiter had refused medical treatment for the chest infection. Rossiter had asked his nursing home at least 40 times to stop feeding and hydrating him through a tube to his stomach before the matter was taken to court.
The case shed light on a gray area in Australian law: patients have a right to refuse lifesaving treatment but helping another to commit suicide is a crime punishable by life in prison. Rossiter’s nursing home had sought a court ruling on its legal culpability before agreeing to Rossiter’s repeated requests to stop feeding him.

In court, the judge said Rossiter clearly had a right to direct — and refuse — his treatment. Food and fluid should not be administered against his wishes but medical staff must fully inform Rossiter of the consequences, the judge ruled. Hammond said the ruling was not about euthanasia, but about giving people the right to refuse treatment if they are dying.

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