EXCLUSIVE All my wife wants is for her torture to end – dying is the only way: Heartbreaking account of husband of bed-ridden mother, 39, battling long Covid ‘death sentence’, who wants to end her life in Switzerland
- Family is planning one last Christmas together before seeking an assisted death
- READ MORE: Hancock defends letting Covid infected patients into care homes
Stuart May is living every husband’s worst nightmare.
As the 35-year-old decorates the family home for Christmas, he faces the heartbreaking prospect of driving his bed-ridden wife 800 miles to Switzerland to end her ‘torture’.
For mother-of-four Kelly Louise has spent the last 18 months battling a long Covid ‘death sentence’ that has left her ‘imprisoned’ in a dark room in constant agony and unable to care for her children.
Mrs Smith-May’s condition started to gradually deteriorate after she caught Covid in December 2021.
So much so that the 39-year-old, from Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, has now ‘reached the point where dying would 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’
Stuart May, husband to a wife who wants to travel to Switzerland for an assisted death, has shared his heartbreaking account of the ‘torture’ his wife his suffering
She is no longer able to look after her children — Kai, Tawny, Zayn, and Jett — ‘whom she absolutely adores with every piece of her heart’
After a loved one launched a £10,000 fundraiser to finally end her ‘torture’, Mr May shared his heartbreaking account of how they have come to this decision.
Speaking to MailOnline from his home, Mr May — who has become his wife of eight year’s full-time carer, quitting his job as a digger driver in order to do so — said they wanted to make the most of what might be their last Christmas together.
Mr May said: ‘I had no choice but to give up work and step in and do absolutely everything.
‘People say we’ve got a lovely home but that’s all the stuff we had when Kelly was fit and well.
‘Kelly was very house proud, she wanted the best for her children like any mum.
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.
‘But for more than 18 months she’s been bed bound – I wash her hair once a month and I have to turn her over. She’s in so much pain.’
Mr May said his wife was diagnosed with long Covid shortly catching the virus nearly two years ago.
She was, it is claimed, later diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).
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, just like Kelly, experience them for months or even years.
But, although unable to prove it, Mr May believes the Covid vaccine, which his wife received in April 2022, exacerbated her symptoms.
‘I know it’s difficult to prove,’ he said.
‘At first doctors said it was psychological, then she was diagnosed with long Covid.
‘After they said it was chronic fatigue and ME but they didn’t know which because the symptoms are the same.’
There is no scientific evidence the jab is responsible for Kelly’s condition or if the timing was a coincidence.
Regardless of the trigger, Mr May said the process of getting his wife help has been a terrible ordeal.
‘Kelly has been let down by doctors for the last two years and now she has reached the point where dying would end her suffering,’ he said.
To start with, Mr May claims his mother-in-law helped with the couple’s four children, aged 22 (Kai), 16 (Tawny), nine (Zayn) and six (Jett).
When it became too much for her, he quit his job as a digger driver to stay at home to care for his wife and children.
The family car was on finance and had to be returned and for the first time the family had to rely on benefits.
Mr May said that, at first, the GP didn’t believe Kelly was ill and ‘tried to fob her off with the mental health team’.
He said: ‘They made out she was lying. They said cancer patients could get themselves to the surgery so Kelly should be able to.
‘The doctors treated her badly, they were ignoring what she was telling them when she was in so much agony she couldn’t get off the bed.
‘They wanted her to go into respite care for two weeks but it was a place where you had to do your own cooking and look after yourself. Kelly wasn’t able to do any of those things.
‘Every doctor we’ve had come round here has not really believed her. All the health professionals who have seen her don’t give a toss.’
Mrs Smith-May, once a bubbly, loud and creative person, hasn’t left her bedroom at the couple’s three-bedroomed house since June last year.
Mr May said: ‘The health service has left her like a dying dog. She’s been left to suffer, a doctor comes out every few weeks but we are not getting anywhere.
‘The blinds are down, she has no TV, there’s just an electric bed and a commode in there. It’s torture, like being prison.
Mrs Smith-May, a stay-at-home mum, previously described her illness as ‘being poisoned every minute of the day’ and a ‘living death sentence’,
Her condition has gradually worsened ever since she caught Covid in December 2021
‘The suffering she is going through, missing out on being a mum and a wife.
For me it seems like I’m caring for someone I no longer recognise, she’s not the woman I married.
‘I try to look after her the best I can, keep her as comfortable as I can.’
To make matters worse Mrs Smith-May has contracted the flu and a doctor visited this week to start her on a course of medication.
Earlier this year she was able to use a laptop where she joined a forum for other patients suffering from the long-term effects of Covid.
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She was in regular contact with a woman from Florida seriously ill with ME, who travelled to Switzerland to end her life at the Swiss Pegasos clinic.
Mr May said: ‘That’s where the idea came from, we’ve talked about it a lot and it’s what Kelly wants.
‘The idea is that we will hire a camper van – or maybe just a van and I will put Kelly in the back and drive her there. Our passports are out of date so we will have to renew them first.
‘I don’t know when this is going to happen. At the moment I am just focusing on having as normal a Christmas as possible for our two youngest boys.
‘Kelly won’t be able to come down to join us. I will take videos of the boys opening their presents and then wake Kelly to show them to her in her room.
‘The last time she went outside was April 2022 when she had the Covid jab. She hasn’t left her room since June last year.
‘I wanted her to come down and sit outside in a wheelchair but she just couldn’t do it. One time I tried to carry her down but we only got as far as the bedroom door, she was in too much pain.’
The couple use their mobile phones to communicate while Mr May is doing the housework downstairs. As MailOnline were interviewing Mr May, Mrs Smith-May called his mobile and whispered: ‘I’m so ill.’
Neither Mr May or any of Mrs Smith-May family have looked into the legalities of helping her to take her own life, an offence under UK law which is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Mr May said: ‘Assisted dying is the easy option for Kelly now because she’s given up on all hope. Her friend went and did it and is out of pain and suffering, that’s what she wants.
‘So the option is to go there and end it peacefully. There’s no talk of Kelly wanting to do it herself.
‘It’s her wish, everyone has got that right to do that with some sort of dignity.’
Asked if he thought the day would come when they would set off for Switzerland on Mrs Smith-May final journey, Mr May said: ‘I try not to think about it.
‘Since our GoFundMe page went global we’ve had offers of help and people suggesting cures and things.
‘Before that we didn’t get any help, not even from the NHS.
‘For now I’m just getting on with my day to day life looking after Kelly and the children.’
Mrs Smith-May has become ‘totally dependent’ on her husband , 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
Some experts consider long Covid to be on par with ME due to an overlap of symptoms, though the conditions are both still poorly understood.
Viral infections are hypothesised to be a potential trigger for people to develop ME by both charities and the NHS.
Much like long Covid, there is no test that can diagnose ME 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.
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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.
The most common symptom of ME is extreme tiredness but sufferers can also experience muscle and joint pain, flu-like symptoms, nausea and cognitive problems.
In severe cases, people can no longer use the toilet or feed themselves independently.
As both ME and long Covid are poorly understood conditions, any 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.
Mrs Smith May’s GoFundMe page has so far raised £3,890 – more than a third of its target.
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