A grieving husband who watched his beloved wife suffocate to death over four days has “wholeheartedly” backed our assisted dying petition as it nears 80,000 signatures.

Warwick Jackson, 63, is haunted by the memory of Ann’s final days spent gasping for breath and begging for help to end her agony.

He said: “One time when I was sitting with her, when she was still choking and coughing and suffocating, I thought: ‘I can do this. I can end it, smother her with a pillow.’

“But I lacked the courage to kill my wife. As a consequence, her suffering went on and on.”

The couple’s nightmare began when Ann felt short of breath during a Christmas walk in 2018.

READ MORE: Dame Jenni Murray on assisted dying: ‘The way things are is utterly inhumane’

An x-ray revealed fluid on her lungs and further tests led to a shock diagnosis of stage four peritoneal cancer.

Ann, who sold natural health products, underwent chemotherapy. But it soon became clear that nothing more could be done.

As they prepared for the inevitable, Warwick repeatedly questioned doctors about what they should expect in Ann’s final weeks and days. He was told palliative care would ensure she did not suffer, before most likely dying in her sleep.

Warwick said: “If they had said: ‘Look, she’s in for a rough ride. She will probably suffocate,’ then I would have had a discussion with her about the option to go to Dignitas.

“But I was getting all these reassurances that palliative care will take care of it.”

Instead, Ann spent four days gasping and choking as her breathing became increasingly laboured.

Warwick recalled how he desperately surrounded his partner of 37 years with electric fans to increase air flow and made sure she always had a handheld fan.

He said: “I had several of these going like a relay race, frightened to death of the moment when all the batteries went flat together.

“For four days before the end she was coughing and struggling for breath. There’s no night and day, it’s all one big continuum when you’re dying.

“One night she asked the nurse, would she end it for her? The nurse said she could not do that.”

Ann, 61, remained awake throughout the ordeal despite being given the maximum permitted dose of sedatives.

Warwick, of Shropshire, now suffers from symptoms of PTSD as a result of witnessing her “slow, agonising and traumatic death” in August 2020.

He added: “I couldn’t walk into the lounge for a year because of the ghosts that it left behind, the image of her fighting for breath. It’s horrendous.”

Opponents of assisted dying often argue that better end of life services would prevent traumatic deaths. But Warwick said MPs should “not believe that this problem can be solved by better palliative care”.

He added: “Listen to the stories of people like us and learn from it. It’s people like Ann that fall through the net.”

The Daily Express Give Us Our Last Rights crusade calls for assisted dying to be legalised for terminally ill people who are expected to die within six months.

Our petition – backed by Dame Esther Rantzen, who is also fighting for change after a diagnosis of stage four lung cancer – was on the verge of 80,000 signatures on Wednesday afternoon.

Warwick said he “wholeheartedly” supported our call for MPs to be granted a free vote. He added: “My view is that politicians are only ever moved by public opinion.

“We pay them to represent the views of the people. As you are seeing through this petition, people’s views are changing. More are for this now than against it.”

You can sign the petition here.

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