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pounds 46 will let me die; Bid for death with dignity at assisted suicide clinic.

Byline: Debbie James

A TERMINALLY ill man has vowed to end his life at a Swiss clinic . Reginald Crew, 74, says he has been robbed of his dignity by motor neur one disease.

He has slept, been fed and bathed in the same chair for the last 18 weeks because of the searing pain that prickles his skin w henhe lies flat.His arms lie like two dead weights at his side, and he has to rely on his wife and carerWyn, 71, for every movement, from scratchinghis nose and r epositioning his head on his pillow, to hoisting his limp body on to the toilet.

Just four years ago, Mr Crew was enjo yinghis retirement, playing golf and hiking w ith his wife and daughter, Jan, 41.

Now the former Ford car worker, from Hunts Cross, Liverpool, is determined t o endhis life. He is about to apply to become one of almost 20 British members of a non-pr ofit making Swiss organisation that pledges to help clients ``die with dignity'' by supplying them with a lethal cocktail of barbiturates. He will post his application forms and medical records to Switzerland fo r his application to be vetted. And if Swiss doctors review his case quick-ly, he could become the second Briton t o have an assisted suicide at the hands of Dignitas volunteers , for a mere pounds 46. Mr Crew last night said his life ended t he day he was diagnosed at Walton Neur ological Centr e, Liverpool, four years ago. He said: ``At first I was relieved when t he doctor said it wasn't Parkinson's or multiple sclerosis, but then from t he look on his face I realised I had something much worse.'' His wife Wyn s aid: ``The first question he asked me was `How is your health?' I didn't understand at first, but no w I kno w that hemeant did I have the strength t o take care of Reg, because it is absolutely exhausting both physically and mentall y. '' Mr Crew, who is visited each morning by two Macmillan nurses who bathe him and administer painkillers , said: ``When my legs went last year I could see my life was going backwards. ``I have really taken a turn fo r the worse in the last few months. My nec

muscles have gone no w, and I can onl y eat porridge and soup. ``I'm living from day to day and every day it is getting harder and harder. '' Mr Crew first mentioned assisted s uicide a few months after his diagnosis.

But his wife and daughter dismissed his suggestions until this summer, when he started to lose the power to move his nec k.

His hopes for a chang e in British law were dashed when fello w motor neur one sufferer Diane Pretty lost her battle in t he European Court of Human Rights to protect her hus-band from prosecution if he helped her die. Mrs Crew said: ``We followed the Diane Pretty case very closely, and to be honest we had expected a different outcome, so it was a real shock when she lost her cour t battle.'' The couple first heard about Dignitas in a television documentary this summer. Mr Crew said: ``I watched this documentary and thought, `this is my last chance'. Getting this would be the best gift I could possibly hope for. It is the onl y chance I have left.

``I want to go while I can s till voice my opin-ion and t ell them what I want, not like poor Diane Pretty. ``I saw her on TV and I t hought, that should have been me going t o court to fight for the right to die, not her, she couldn't even s peak, but at least I can explain fo r myself how it feels to live like this.'' He contin ued: ``I'm not a coward. If I thought for a min ute there was light at the end of the tunnel t hen I wouldn't be doing this. But there is no cur e. I am going to die and my condition is just going t o get worse and w orse.'' He added: ``I'm frightened of living not of dying, I can't face what Diane Pretty went through. She put it on s how how bad you canget, but I can't face that.'' Mr Crew started his career in t he Merchant Navy at 13, before being conscripted t o fight in Malaysia and Singapore in the Army at 18.

The couple met at a dance at Hollyoak dance hall on Smithdown Road, Liverpool, in 1949, when 19-year-old Mr Crew was on leave from the Army. They were married two years later.

He later worked as a docker in Liverp ool, before moving t o Australia in 1960 after mar-rying Wyn in 1951. The couple returned home in 1970 when Mr Crew took a job at Fords in Halewood.

Today Mrs Crew has vowed to help Mr Crew get to Switzerland. She said: ``Reg has talked about this for a long time . ``I feel like I would be going to Switzerland to get him murdered, but you have got to put yourself in his position.

``I have tried to imagine what it would feel like to be in his situation, and I kno w I would feel exactly the same as him. He has got no dignity left.

``He has made his mind u p and he wants to do it quickly. ``I feel sick inside but what choice have I got? It's what he wants . I don't want him to die but I don't want to see him choking. I just can't bear it either way, I'm in a no win situation.''

CAPTION(S):

years ago and, right, together shortly before his illness Main picture: EDDIE BARFORD; LIFE TIMES: Wyn Crew looks after her husband, Reg, top; their wedding day 51
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 31, 2002
Words:992
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