Doctor turned down R1m to euthanise his friend

Doctor turned down R1m to euthanise his friend.
Doctor turned down R1m to euthanise his friend.
Image: 123RF/Lucian Coman

He turned down R1-million because he could not help his friend die.

“For me‚ it was first that he is a friend. Secondly‚ legally I cannot do it.”

This is how Dr Joseph Huskisson described the dilemma he was faced with when his late friend and colleague‚ Dr Anrich Burger‚ offered him R1-million to assist him to die.

“I didn’t even ask him where he is going to get the money. I don’t know if he had the money‚” Huskisson said.

“He told me the whole time that he knows that he cannot put pressure on me to do it‚ but I must help him. I could not bring myself to do it.”

Burger became a quadriplegic after a car crash eight years earlier.

In 2011‚ he attempted suicide by drinking an overdose of pills with the help of an unknown party.

Burger was rushed to the Mediclinic Vergelegen in Somerset West and his stomach was pumped.

“He was very angry that we resuscitated him.”

In 2013‚ Dr Sean Davison‚ 57‚ allegedly helped Burger to die. Davison‚ the founder of the right-to-die organisation Dignity South Africa‚ was released on R20‚000 bail in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday after being charged with Burger’s murder.

Davison said in his affidavit he had no intention of evading trial and had handed his South African and New Zealand passports to the police.

“It has always been my contention that I have not committed any offence as alleged in this matter‚” said Davison.

Huskisson believes if Davison helped to euthanise Burger‚ he was wrong.

“But‚ in mitigation‚ I know how determined he (Burger) was to go away‚ to die. He did not want to live another day. When he got up in the morning‚ those were his words‚” Huskisson said.

“Later on I could not visit him anymore‚ because all he would tell me is he does not want to be here anymore. It was too depressing for me and later on I became depressed. The last three months of his life‚ visiting him it was too much because it (to die) was all he wanted to do.”

Huskisson said he visited Burger almost daily and every Monday evening they watched TV series or movies together.

“We watched all eight seasons of 24 … He loved his action movies.”

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Friday said he supports Davison. 

Tutu called on lawmakers to factor in the rights of terminally ill patients who wanted dignity in death.

“Just as I have argued for compassion and fairness in life‚ I believe that terminally ill people should be treated with compassion and fairness when it comes to their death‚” Tutu said.

“This should include affording people who have reached the end stages of life the right to choose how and when to leave Mother Earth.”

Tutu said he believes in the sanctity of life and that “death is part of life”.

“Alongside the wonderful palliative care that exists‚ the choices available to the terminally ill should include dignified assisted death. It is a choice that I believe lawmakers should engage‚ enable and appropriately regulate.”

X