Euthanasia Advocate, Nicknamed ‘Dr Death,’ Highlights Lily Thai’s Peaceful Passing at 23 to Strengthen Support for the Cause

A proponent of euthanasia asserts that the recent death of a 23-year-old woman suffering from a painful terminal illness exemplifies the positive outcomes of new voluntary assisted dying legislation. However, he emphasizes the need for further progress in this area.

Lily Thai, a courageous individual, peacefully passed away after enduring a lengthy battle against autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy (AAG), a rare condition that triggers the body’s immune system to attack its own nervous system. As a result, Lily was unable to walk, eat, or drink without experiencing severe discomfort.

Taking advantage of the assisted dying laws introduced in South Australia in January of this year, Lily chose to end her life in the presence of her loved ones at Laurel Hospice, located in Flinders Medical Centre, on June 21.

Dr. Philip Nitschke, sometimes referred to as ‘Dr. Death’ due to his involvement in the controversial field of medical euthanasia, hopes that Lily’s case will assuage people’s concerns about assisted dying and strengthen support for these laws. Speaking to The Advertiser, he stated, “The South Australian laws are indeed functional, as demonstrated by Lily, and I believe most individuals will be pleased that such legislation exists to provide assistance.”

Dr. Nitschke further noted, “It’s worth mentioning that among the approximately 12 individuals who have utilized this legislation, all of them had either terminal cancer or degenerative neurological diseases. In such cases, it is challenging to find anyone who would disapprove of the South Australian law.”

As a former doctor based in Adelaide who now resides in the Netherlands, Dr. Nitschke believes that the legislation has not altered the desire of older individuals to control their own end-of-life decisions through state-sanctioned means. He argues that the elderly wish to retain autonomy over their own deaths without having to seek permission from health authorities, as mandated by existing state laws.

Dr. Nitschke added, “I have observed no decrease in the prevailing sentiment among the elderly that they should be the ones making this decision, free from the constraints of restrictive legislative processes. Many older individuals will continue to seek and, on occasion, use self-administered lethal drugs or plan trips to Switzerland, the only place in the world where receiving assistance is not subject to medical profession control.”

In South Australia, voluntary assisted dying is subject to safeguards that require individuals to make three requests and undergo assessments by two medical practitioners before the process can commence. Lily spent her final days in hospice, surrounded by friends and family, before doctors administered fast-acting IV medication, leading to her passing.

In a death notice published in the Adelaide Advertiser, Lily’s family announced her peaceful departure, describing her as a much-loved daughter, beloved granddaughter, niece, cousin, and treasured friend to many. They emphasized that although she is no longer visible, she will forever remain in their hearts.

Lily was the daughter of esteemed culinary couple Le Tu Thai and Kate Sparrow. Mr. Thai, a Vietnamese refugee, rose to prominence as one of Adelaide’s most respected chefs. Alongside his partner Kate, they achieved acclaim through their restaurant, Nediz Tu, before Mr. Thai assumed the helm of the renowned Bridgewater Mill restaurant in the city. Lily had endured excruciating pain due to the rare autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy (AAG) since the age of 17, which severely impacted her quality of life, rendering her bedridden and immobile.

In the weeks leading up to her passing, Lily received palliative care at Laurel Hospice. Due to her deteriorating condition, she was unable to venture outside during her final days and found solace in the comfort of her bed, surrounded by the love and support of her friends and family.

One person who stood by Lily’s side was her close friend and ambulance officer, Danika Pederzolli, aged 28. They met through a St. John’s Ambulance cadet program, and Ms. Pederzolli remembered Lily as having a vibrant attitude, exuding warmth and positivity. She affectionately described Lily as a radiant presence, stating, “She was so joyful, and she remains that way even now; nothing has changed.”

Ms. Pederzolli crafted a heartfelt note for Lily, which she accompanied with a teddy bear, symbolizing their deep friendship. Lily also shared a bond with another AAG patient, Annaliese Holland, aged 23. Together, they aimed to raise awareness about this rare disease and hoped that sharing their stories would lead to earlier diagnoses for other AAG patients.

Lily expressed her appreciation for the incredible response she received when speaking about AAG, as numerous individuals reached out to offer their support, including people she hadn’t spoken to in quite some time. The medicine used to facilitate Lily’s passing under the new assisted dying laws in South Australia was administered via an intravenous drip, leading to her peaceful departure within ten seconds.

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