Debbie Purdy

My name is Debbie Purdy and I live in Bradford with my husband Omar. I was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in 1995 at the age of 31.

I love my life, but I have always been a fiercely independent woman, and I want to have choice about how and when I die. Should living become unbearable to me, I want to be able to ask for, and receive help to die with dignity.

British law does not allow this, and makes assisting someone to die a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison, so my options are to attempt suicide myself, and risk making matters worse, or to travel to Switzerland to have an assisted death.

My husband knows that if he was able to help me collect the necessary paperwork and make travel arrangements, I could delay making this decision, maybe forever, and for this reason he is prepared to risk a prison sentence. But I do not want Omar or any other person dear to me to be made a criminal for what I see as an act of love and humanity.

I will go overseas to die, alone and unaided, while I still can, if that is the only way I can be in control of my death and protect my husband. But it should not have to be this way. The law in the UK is forcing me to consider dying before I am ready. It should be changed so that me, and others like me, can know that if our suffering does become unbearable we can choose an assisted death.


Listen to Debbie on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour

Debbie’s story in The Daily Telegraph

Debbie’s story in The Guardian

Another piece in The Guardian


The accounts made in the personal stories section of the Dignity in Dying website reflect the views of the authors. The views of Dignity in Dying may differ


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Should you want to contact any of the people featured in these pages, or wish to share your own story with us, please contact Jo Cartwright:

020 7479 7737 or 07725 433 025