Man chooses to end his own life in a clinic after long battle with multiple sclerosis

Monday, March 18, 2024
 – A Scottish solicitor has ended his own life in a Swiss clinic following a long illness.

Bruce De Wert, who was suffering from a severe form of multiple sclerosis, travelled to Basel last month.

The 69-year-old undertook the journey on his own having informed his family, including his wife and two adult daughters, of his intentions for an assisted death.

Daughter Nicole Wightman said he planned all the details himself including his memorial service.

The 44-year-old mother of two said: ‘I think he had been contemplating Switzerland for some time.

‘He was becoming more and more disabled, and he was deteriorating quite significantly. It was horrible to watch.

‘He did look quite frail where he had been strong and fit and did every sport under the sun.

‘Dad had been looking forward to his retirement and travelling round Europe and I think it came as a shock to realise he would not be able to do that. He had lost his independence and did not want to be a burden.’

Last week around 60 family, friends, and former colleagues attended a moving humanist memorial service at the Parkville Hotel in Blantyre, Lanarkshire.

Ms Wightman, who has two teenage daughters, said it came as a shock when her father had told the family of his plans.

He had not wanted to end up in care or his wife to be forced to look after him.

She added: ‘Dad decided that if he left it much longer he wouldn’t be able to go to Switzerland.

‘Like everything in Dad’s life, he went out and did his research and then told us the decision he had made and what his plan was.’

He took a taxi from his home in Bothwell, Lanarkshire, on February 21, then took a flight to Frankfurt and a connection to Basel.

Representatives of Pegasos, a voluntary assisted dying association, picked him up at the airport and he stayed at a hotel overnight before being taken to the clinic the next day.

Mr De Wert insisted that no family members should accompany him. However, he called his wife on the morning of his death to say his final goodbye.

The former solicitor was diagnosed three years ago with primary progressive multiple sclerosis after a series of dizzy turns and problems with his balance and eyes.

Ms Wightman said her father was insistent that he went on his own to Switzerland, despite his ill health, in case a relative was prosecuted or implicated in his death.

Family members spent time with him on February 20, the day before his departure to Switzerland, giving him a last hug.

Mr De Wert passed away on the morning of February 22 having phoned his wife beforehand. His wife was informed of his passing later that day.

He had left details of his life for the celebrant to read out at his memorial service and chose the music he wanted played.’

Everyone at the memorial remembered what a wonderful person he was and that he was larger than life,’ said Ms Wightman.

The family will be sent his ashes and death certificate from Switzerland.

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