Australian firefighter Troy Thornton dies after lethal injection in Swiss clinic

Mr Thornton desperately wished he have could legally end his life at home in Australia, with all those he loved around him.

But despite Victoria becoming the first state to legalise voluntary assisted dying, he didn’t qualify.


His disease — multiple system atrophy — is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. There are no treatments and there is no prospect of recovery but death can take years.

That’s where the Victorian laws fall down, Mr Thornton explained.

He could not find two doctors willing to say with absolute certainty that he would die within 12 months, which in his case is a condition to access the legislation.

That left him with Switzerland as a solution to end his suffering, albeit without his children, his extended family and his loyal circle of friends.

The career firefighter had spent his final day alive with a man he just met, Australia’s so-called Dr Death, Philip Nitschke, who has led a years-long campaign for assisted dying laws in Australia.

On his last day, they took in the sweeping expanse of the Rhine River that snakes through the northwest medieval city of Basel, before heading to the snow-covered peaks of the Alps.

In the evening, Troy and his wife Christine sat down for a last supper with a life-long friend who he’s entrusted to escort her safely home to their two teenage children.

«Doctors have always told me that you don’t die of it, you die with it. You can live for quite a few years, but … you end up being a vegetable,» Mr Thornton said from Basel.

«After a while it attacks different systems, breathing, swallowing. I’d end up drowning in my own mucous, that’s what happens.»

He called his disease a «beast»: one that takes everything away slowly.

«First you can’t swim, then you can’t run, walk, kick the footy with your children, you can’t surf, drive; eventually it takes your career. Then you end up being a vegetable.

«It’s a pretty grim way to go out.»

He described every day as «like Groundhog Day» — filled with incessant vertigo, double vision and nausea.

«I’ve just had enough, but unfortunately the laws, while they are a huge step in the right direction, they don’t help me. They discount a lot of people.»

He urged Australian voters to tell their politicians what they want when it comes to end of life choices.

«When it’s our life, we should have control. We should be able to choose if we are of sound mind. That’s what I’d like to say.»

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