Her skin stuck to his fingers when he tried to turn her frail body in bed. He could smell her decaying flesh. He saw her hair fall out and heard the once brilliant psychiatrist battle to speak.
That’s why Sean Davison helped his mother, Patricia Ferguson, to die. Now he faces a murder charge in New Zealand, where she lived, for the mercy killing.
The 49-year-old professor at the University of the Western Cape could be jailed for three years if he’s convicted in October. He’s currently on bail and back in Cape Town with wife Raine and their two sons.
He says he’s passionate about bringing the fight to legalise euthanasia to SA. In 1999 the SA Law Commission produced a bill to legalise it but it went nowhere.
To promote debate Sean is launching Dignity SA, a non-governmental organisation advocating euthanasia.
He’s motivated by what happened to his mother. She was 85 in 2006 when Sean, the youngest of her four children, gave her a deadly morphine cocktail to drink.
‘‘I had my mother look me in the eye, squeeze my hand and beg me to kill her,’’ he says. ‘‘Her suffering was agony for me.’’
The cancer that took hold of her spread from her colon to her lungs, liver and brain and by 2006 doctors could do no more.
‘‘She eventually just lay in bed, waiting to die. It broke my heart,’’ Sean says. ‘‘She was the loving mother I’d turned to all my life with any pain or hurt. Then she became the cause of my pain and I couldn’t turn to her.’’
He recalls gently pouring the morphine-laced liquid into her mouth. ‘‘She smiled at me through all the pain. We were at peace. I held her and said, ‘You got your wish, Mom’. She was so happy at the end; her pain was over.’’
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