The parents of a young British rugby player who traveled to a Swiss clinic to kill himself after he was paralyzed in a training accident said he was living “a second-class existence.”
Daniel James, 23, who played for England Under-16s had traveled to a euthanasia clinic last month with his parents, Mark and Julie.
James was paralyzed from the chest down after his spine was dislocated when a scrum collapsed during training with Nuneaton Rugby Club in March 2007.
But his condition is not believed to have been terminal and he is reported to have made some progress in regaining use of his fingers.
James’ parents said Friday that their son had tried “several” times to kill himself before he “gained his wish.” They described their son as “an intelligent young man of sound mind” who was “not prepared to live what he felt was a second-class existence.”
James had several operations and spent eight months rehabilitating in the hospital before returning to his parents’ home in Sinton Green, near Worcester. He died at the Dignitas clinic on September 12.
His parents, who run a stud farm, have been interviewed by detectives who are preparing a file of evidence for consideration by prosecutors.
James’ mother has defended her decision to help her son die, explaining: “He couldn’t walk, had no hand function, but constant pain in all of his fingers. He was incontinent, suffered uncontrollable spasms in his legs and upper body and needed twenty four hour care.”
In an e-mail response earlier this month to a newspaper article about a right-to-die test case she wrote: “Dan had tried to commit suicide three times but this was unsuccessful due to his disability, his only other option was to starve himself.”