My name is Anne Ovari and I live down the Huon at Pelverata. I would like to share my personal experience of choosing life over death with my son, Joseph.
Joseph was born in 2001 in Canberra. At five days old he was rushed to hospital with all his organs beginning to shut down. After hours of tests the doctors discovered he had a very small left side of the heart. Joseph was transferred to Westmead Hospital in Sydney but they were unable to help him. The doctors there gave us the choice to take Joseph home to die or go ahead with surgery that could only be done at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. The doctors advised us that this was not corrective surgery but only palliative.
There was no way we were going to let our baby die. I had already lost a baby through stillbirth and was not prepared to lose another child. Why would we choose death if there was a chance of life?
After transferring down to Melbourne and after several operations and procedures Joseph was well enough to go home. He is now 18 years old and lives a pretty normal life except for having medication, medical check-ups, another surgery and being careful not to overexert himself.
Joseph’s surgeries have been palliative and we don’t know how long he will live but we have had the joy and blessing of Joseph living with us rather than the regret and guilt of letting him die, or hastening his death as an infant through assisted dying. The hardship and struggle was so worth it. I can’t imagine life without our son. Joseph’s life has not been a death sentence but has been a source of joy and hope for others.
I am very concerned about the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 as I feel the advances in Palliative Care will be undermined and cut short. I hope that instead of passing this Bill more funding will be put into improving Palliative Care here in Tasmania which means that people can be really cared for with respect, love, and compassion, which is so much more dignified than being killed or choosing assisted dying.
Finally, life should always be protected. Each of us as a human is a “someone” not a “something” that can be disposed of at any whim.