Thursday, 13 June, 2024
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Euthanasia ‘pod’ ready for use, says inventor

The controversial inventor dubbed ‘Dr Death’ says his 3D-printed coffin-like “suicide capsules” will be used for the first time in Switzerland this year, giving people the chance to end their lives in “a peaceful way”.

The pods – named Sarco as an abbreviation for sarcophagus – are portable devices operated by users from the inside, which work by reducing internal oxygen levels and releasing a fatal nitrogen dose.

Created as a way to carry out assisted suicide, the pod was invented by Dr Philip Nitschke, a euthanasia advocate, who told Daily Mail: “We’re ready to use it…we’re talking to a number of people who are wanting to be the first to use it.”

However, pro-life groups have warned that the 3D-printed Sarco Pods “glamourise suicide”.

James Mildred, director of engagement at CARE (Christian Action, Research and Education) said: “Suicide is a tragedy that good societies seek to prevent in every circumstance. There are ethical ways to help human beings that don’t involve the destruction of life.”

Assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since 1942.

“I’ve been in Switzerland this past week talking to our Swiss lawyers just to make sure there are no further requirements needed before use,” said Nitschke, who has offices in Amsterdam but hails from South Australia, which introduced new assisted dying laws in January.

“The person will climb into the machine, they will be asked three questions and they will answer verbally: ‘Who are you?’, ‘Where are you?’ and ‘Do you know what happens if you press the button?’

“If they answer those questions verbally, the software then switches the power on so that the button can be pressed. If they press the button they will die very quickly.

“When you climb into Sarco the oxygen level is 21% but after you press the button, it takes 30 seconds for the oxygen to drop to less than 1%.”

The pods were developed by Exit International, a non-profit firm headed up by Nitschke, that has advocated for the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Currently, the only place the devices can be used is in Switzerland.

The pod will provide an alternative to the current method of assisted suicide in the country, Nitschke said, which involves swallowing a pill – which has its faults, he said.

“To ingest a pill, you have to be able to swallow (some people can’t) and prevent any chance of vomiting or have no gut condition that interferes with absorption,” he said.

To use the Sarco Pod, a person must be a member of Exit International, which costs $100 to sign up to. There are no other costs besides this but under Swiss law, anyone trying to end their life must have the mental capacity to do so.

“We’ll be using the traditional method of getting a Swiss psychiatrist to talk to the person and assess their mental capacity – and we’ll have that done before a person is able to use the device,” Nitschke added.

Aside from Sarco, the former physician also revealed he was working on a concept for life-ending implants for people with dementia – although there is no prototype as yet.

He said someone going through the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease could theoretically choose to have the implant if they wanted to end their life before the condition got too severe.

Users would have to press a button on the implant regularly, perhaps once a day, he suggested, to prevent a lethal dose of poison being administered.

If the disease progressed to a point where the person did not have the capability to press the button, then the device would end their life.

The specific chemical the device would use to administer death is undecided, as his team is ‘'having trouble trying to find out what we can use”.


Daily Mail article – 'We're ready to use it': Anger at controverisal inventor dubbed 'Dr Death' who says his 3D-printed coffin-like 'suicide capsules' will be used for the first time this YEAR (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Switzerland gives legal approval to suicide pod


UK court rejects bid for assisted death


Colombian woman dies by euthanasia after historic legal battle


Portugal’s top court narrowly rejects euthanasia Bill over ‘imprecision’






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