A terminally ill campaigner who helped launch a Daily Express crusade to change the law on assisted dying has died at home, his family has announced.
David Minns was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2020 and watched his daughter Katie suffer a slow and painful death from another horrific cancer the following year.
He first shared his story in the newspaper last February, when his powerful account and demand for choice kicked off the Give Us Our Last Rights crusade.
The father-of-two spoke passionately about the need for safe access to medically assisted dying in the UK for those nearing the end of their lives with no hope of a cure.
He selflessly supported the Express campaign throughout the final year of his life, despite his worsening symptoms and knowing that any change would come too late for him.
David died aged 75 in Mildenhall, Suffolk, on February 13. His wife Sue and son Matthew said he died at home, as he had wished.
However, his final hours, days and weeks were marred by agony and fear.
Sue and Matthew said in a statement: “He received excellent care and support from NHS and hospice services, but still he suffered, just 18 months after watching Katie die in terrible pain.
“David was not a man to suffer pain easily – he spent his life pushing himself to his absolute limit as a marathon-runner, a rower and in many other sports.
“But at the end of his life David was so frightened, struggling to breathe and in agony. It would have been so much kinder for him, and for us all, if he’d had the choice to die on his own terms.”
They added: “We have been traumatised by the events leading up to David’s death and are determined to continue his fight.
“We are more certain than ever that the law on assisted dying absolutely must change, so that other terminally ill people can be given the option David was so cruelly denied.”
David wrote to the Commons Health and Social Care Committee at Christmas urging it to listen to people like him during the upcoming assisted dying inquiry.
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is David’s MP, met with him last year after being moved by his story.
Mr Hancock said: “I’m incredibly saddened to hear of David’s death. I had the pleasure of getting to know David – a constituent – through his passionate campaigning on assisted dying.
“David’s powerful testimony made me reflect on the question, ‘When death is imminent and the pain is insufferable, would I want the choice about how to die?’
“David was both brave and inspirational. He was a fighter whose spirit will live on through this campaign.
“My thoughts are with David’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
Ellie Ball, of campaign group Dignity in Dying, said David’s words had shone a light on the “unbearable suffering” too many families like his are forced to endure.
She added: “In his passionate yet gentle way, David spoke truth to power, exposing the cruelty and inequality of the UK’s ban on assisted dying and making a persuasive case for change.
“He knew he would not personally benefit from his own campaigning, but he has helped bring us closer than ever before to a law that gives dying people like him and Katie the choice, compassion and protection that is sorely lacking at the moment.
“David will be remembered fondly and we look forward to supporting his family to continue his legacy.”
David will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather and brother, who touched the lives of many and played a vital role in fuelling much-needed debate about assisted dying.
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