Last year, Nagui Morcos - a man with Huntington's disease - took his own life because physician assisted death is illegal in Canada. Now, in his final testament, Dr. Donald Low, Canada's reassuring voice during SARS, makes a deeply personal appeal for MD-assisted death in a searing video
recorded just eight days before he died.
I had the privilege of interviewing Nagui twice on White Coat Black Art. His family has created a wonderful web site as a permanent memorial
of an amazing man whose courage and single mindedness in the face of death inspired me to reconsider long held beliefs about assisted death. You can find all of my conversations with Nagui, and his incredibly brave partner Jan Crowley.
And now, we have the late Dr. Don Low. I first met Don in the halls of Mount Sinai Hospital, where he provided superb care of patients and advice to colleagues on infectious diseases great and small.
Don was also an innovator. He was at the forefront of research into the use of intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) in the treatment of flesh eating disease. The early use of that treatment on former Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard undoubtedly helped save his life.
In his final days, Don stepped up to make one final pitch for innovation. In February 2013, Don was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor. In his usual self-effacing way, Don worried more for his family than himself. Still, rather than die quietly, he recorded a final interview in which he condemned the fact that in Canada, physician-assisted death is illegal. He noted that in countries in which the practice is permitted, he could have drank a cocktail of sedating narcotics, and died at a moment of his own choosing, surrounded by his loved ones.
Behind Don's soothing and friendly manner was a penetrating intellect that could get to the point better than almost any I have encountered. In his final interview, Don mused about those who maintain a knee-jerk opposition to assisted death.
"I wish they could live in my body for twenty-four hours and I think they would change that opinion," said Don, who died just eight days later.
From now on, whenever I hear the usual objections, I'll be quoting Don.
Rest in peace, my friend.