Health $ Lifestyle

Bed-ridden mother, 39, battling long Covid ‘death sentence’ wants to end her life in Switzerland after almost two years of suffering that has left her in constant agony and unable to care for her four children

A mother-of-four battling a long Covid ‘death sentence’ that has left her bedridden, unable to care for her children and in constant agony wants to end her life in Switzerland.

Kelly Louise Smith-May, of Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire, is seeking £10,000 to travel to an assisted dying facility ‘to end her suffering’. 

The 39-year-old’s condition has gradually deteriorated ever since she caught Covid in December 2021. 

Mrs Smith-May’s family, who fully support her heartbreaking choice, said: ‘She didn’t come to this decision easily.’ 

According to a heartbreaking GoFundMe post authored by a close friend, Mrs Smith-May is no longer able to look after her children — Kai, Tawny, Zayn, and Jett — ‘whom she absolutely adores with every piece of her heart’.

Kelly Louise Smith-May, 39, from Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire, is seeking £10,000 to travel to an assisted dying facility 'to end her suffering'

Kelly Louise Smith-May, 39, from Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire, is seeking £10,000 to travel to an assisted dying facility ‘to end her suffering’

According to a heartbreaking GoFundMe post authored by a close friend, Mrs Smith-May is no longer able to look after her children ¿ Kai, Tawny, Zayn, and Jett ¿ 'whom she absolutely adores with every piece of her heart'

According to a heartbreaking GoFundMe post authored by a close friend, Mrs Smith-May is no longer able to look after her children — Kai, Tawny, Zayn, and Jett — ‘whom she absolutely adores with every piece of her heart’

Mrs Smith-May, a stay-at-home mum, describes her illness as 'being poisoned every minute of the day' and a 'living death sentence',

Mrs Smith-May, a stay-at-home mum, describes her illness as ‘being poisoned every minute of the day’ and a ‘living death sentence’,

She has also become ‘totally dependent’ on her husband Stuart, who has to roll her over in bed.

Mrs Smith-May, a stay-at-home mother, described own her illness as ‘being poisoned every minute of the day’ and a ‘living death sentence’, according to the fundraising note. 

Her family plan on taking her by campervan via the Euro Tunnel to France, then onto the Swiss Pegasos clinic. 

Mrs Smith-May, who described herself as ‘bubbly’, ‘loud’ and ‘creative’ in an interview with a local newspaper about her illness earlier this year, was struck down with Covid in December 2021.

However, unlike the majority of people who shake off the cold-like symptoms within weeks, she continued to suffer.

What is the current law on assisted dying in the UK?

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland helping someone to take their own life is punishable with up to 14 years in prison.

While no specific law exists in Scotland helping someone end their own life could lead to to prosecution for culpable homicide.

This, in theory, includes helping someone go through assisted dying overseas.

Charities say the current system leaves terminally ill Brits with little choice but to pay thousands to go overseas for their death.

They also warned that those who can’t afford to travel are deciding to take their lives at home, sometimes in pain, compared to a medically assisted death.

UK charities currently estimated that one Brit travels overseas for assisted dying every eight days.

There are currently proposals to change the law in some parts of the UK.

Last September in Scotland, Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur lodged the final proposal to introduce a Member’s Bill which would legalise assisted dying for people who are terminally ill, though no date has been given yet for when this might be considered. 

A public consultation on a Private Member’s Bill on assisted dying closed on the Isle of Man at the end of January.

A consultation on assisted dying proposals also took place in Jersey between October 2022 and January and publication of a consultation feedback report is expected in April.

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Long Covid, a poorly-understood phenomenon, can leave sufferers with a persistent cough, fatigue, muscle aches and loss of smell.

While many long Covid sufferers find their symptoms eventually fade, some people, just like Mrs Smith-May, experience them for months or even years. 

Some experts consider long Covid to be on par with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) — a disputed condition often overlooked as laziness. 

Mrs Smith-May’s family claim her long Covid progressed into ME.

Viral infections are hypothesised to be a potential trigger for people to develop the condition by both charities and the NHS

Much like long Covid, there is no test that can diagnose myalgic encephalomyelitis and no established cure. The NHS instead focuses on treating sufferers’ symptoms to help people manage their condition.

Mild cases are treated with cognitive behavioural therapy and ‘energy management’ — a system to help patients utilise their limited energy throughout the day.

Drugs can help sufferers with pain and insomnia they experience, as well as devices like wheelchairs to increase their mobility.   

Similarly, long Covid treatment also focuses on helping sufferers alleviate the dozen or so symptoms attributed to the condition.

‘She spends all day every day in the dark, painfully sensitive to light, noise, smells, and movement,’ a fundraising page for the family reads. 

‘She can no longer sit, stand, or walk. She can barely talk. She has severe insomnia and when she can get a few hours of sleep, it’s un-restorative. 

‘Due to painful neurological symptoms, she can’t tolerate music, TV, or interacting with friends.

‘She cannot care for her four children whom she absolutely adores with every piece of her heart,’ the page reads. 

The fundraiser describes how Mrs Smith-May didn’t come to decision to seek euthanasia overseas easily, describing the 22 months of suffering she’s experienced as ‘enough’.

‘There is no cure and all possible treatments have failed her,’ the page reads. 

‘Kelly has seen doctors, been to facilities, and exhausted every recommended means of improving her condition with no results.

‘She suffers continuous pain throughout her body that doctors are unable to relieve, leaving her with no choice but to end her own suffering.’

The fundraising page, penned by an unidentified family friend, asks people to please help the family fulfil Mrs Smith-May’s last wish. 

‘Your kindness and generosity will give to Kelly the gift of freedom from pain with respect for her family, who support her choice and want to honour the woman she is,’ it reads. 

Her condition has gradually worsened ever since she caught Covid in December 2021

Her condition has gradually worsened ever since she caught Covid in December 2021

Mrs Smith-May has become 'totally dependent' on her husband Stuart, who has to roll her over in bed

Mrs Smith-May has become ‘totally dependent’ on her husband Stuart, who has to roll her over in bed

Figures released earlier this year show as of the end of December 2022, there were 1,528 members of Dignitas from Great Britain, according to figures from the not-for-profit organisation, which assists dying patients with a 'self-determined end of life'. This has risen from 821 in 2012. Some 33 people from the UK had an assisted death at Dignitas in 2022 ¿ up on 23 people the year before

Figures released earlier this year show as of the end of December 2022, there were 1,528 members of Dignitas from Great Britain, according to figures from the not-for-profit organisation, which assists dying patients with a ‘self-determined end of life’. This has risen from 821 in 2012. Some 33 people from the UK had an assisted death at Dignitas in 2022 – up on 23 people the year before

The most common symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome is extreme tiredness but sufferers can also experience muscle and joint pain, flu-like symptoms, nausea and cognitive problems.

In rare severe cases, people with the condition can no longer use the toilet or feed themselves independently.

As both chronic fatigue syndrome and long Covid are poorly understood conditions, the relationship between the two is uncertain. 

Medically assisted dying, or euthanasia, is illegal in the UK, and can be prosecuted as manslaughter or murder with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. 

Helping someone take their own life, called assisted suicide, is also an offence and punishable by up to 14 years in prison. 

Campaigners have been pushing ministers to reconsider the law on assisted dying for decades, wanting Britain to follow the likes of Australia and New Zealand in making the it legal. 

Earlier this year MPs were told terminally ill Brits are having to choose between ‘suicide, Switzerland or suffering’ and that future generations would be ‘appalled’ by current legislation. 

UK charities currently estimated that one Brit travels overseas for assisted dying every eight days.

They have repeatedly warned that Brits unable afford the many thousands of pounds it can cost to go overseas for medically assisted dying are taking their own lives at home.

This, they add, can lead to people experiencing pain and suffering as they die, compared to a painless medically assisted death.

But a change in the law is opposed by many religious groups, who claim it would undermine the value society places on human life.

Over the past 13 years, there have been 200 cases of assisted dying or assisted suicide referred to the Crown Prosecution Service by the police, with four successful prosecutions. 

Figures released earlier this year by Dignitas – the not-for-profit organisation assisting patients with a ‘self-determined end of life’ – revealed there were 1,528 members from Great Britain at the end of 2022. 

This has risen from 821 in 2012.

Some 33 people from the UK had an assisted death at Dignitas in 2022 – up on 23 people the year before. 

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