Tony Nicklinson: Widow's hopes for campaign

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Media captionJane Nicklinson: "The fight went out of him"

The wife of Tony Nicklinson, who died last week after losing a legal bid to end his life, said she hoped this would not be the end of the campaign.

Jane Nicklinson's 58-year-old husband had locked-in syndrome after a stroke left him paralysed seven years ago.

He lost his High Court case to allow doctors to end his life without fear of prosecution on 16 August.

Mr Nicklinson died from pneumonia at his home in Wiltshire on 22 August after refusing food and fluids.

'Absolute agony'

Mrs Nicklinson said: "This is certainly not the end of the campaign. I do hope that someone takes it up."

Mr Nicklinson, from Melksham, had described his life as a "living nightmare" and his wife said the past few years had been "very hard".

Speaking to the BBC for the first time since the death of her husband, she said she felt the legal campaign had been worthwhile.

She said: "Even though we didn't win - all the hard work for the case has been done. I hope at some point, someone will come forward and carry on with what Tony started.

"I think we always knew the chances of winning at this stage were slim - possible but slim - and we'd never been told anything different so we were prepared for it."

Speaking about the years since his stroke, she said: "For him it was absolute agony - it was torture for him. It was very hard for us to sit back and see him deteriorate but we were fighting the fight with him. It was what we could do for him. It was his wish.

"People have said: 'How could you support him?' - but how could I not support him?"

Mrs Nicklinson, who was a nurse, said the hardest part of the struggle was the medical one. She said: "Although locked-in syndrome isn't a progressive illness, his condition had deteriorated quite a lot over the last few months.

'Only pleasure'

"His posture had become very bad. He was finding it more and more difficult to use his computer because he was so hunched over - and using his computer was about the only thing he had any pleasure with.

"He was in more discomfort than pain - mental pain yes. He'd never taken painkillers because he said he wasn't in pain but he'd just started to take them and it would take an awful lot for Tony to take painkillers.

"It was the day after [the High Court decision] that he said to me that the fight had just gone. He said he couldn't take it any more. Within a couple of days he developed pneumonia - the last 48 hours were pretty unpleasant but thankfully it was quick. It's just a shame that he couldn't die the way he wanted to die."

Image caption Tony Nicklinson died at home surrounded by his wife and daughters

She said the family had known the court judgement a few days before it was announced publicly. She said her husband made a conscious decision to stop eating and taking fluids on 20 August. His GP had recommended antibiotics but Tony refused them.

Mrs Nicklinson said: "I think the moment was the day he broke down in front of all the cameras. I think it really hit him then that everyone else out there was going to know as well. It just completely knocked him for six.

"I think he had raised his hopes so much - probably out of proportion. He said he hadn't been prepared for the emotional side of it for him and he was absolutely devastated."

She said she did not believe her husband would have wanted to live much longer if the court had ruled in his favour.

She said: "He always said maybe knowing he could end his life when he wanted would be enough to keep him going. I don't actually believe that it would.

"Maybe a couple of years ago when he said that, that was true but I think things had become really bad recently. I really think that if he had won, he would have ended his life quite soon.

"I don't think he would have wanted to keep going for too much longer. One of the last things he said to me was: 'I'm already dead - don't mourn for me'.

"And it's true, we did. I think in some respects, seven years ago was harder than this because we did lose the old Tony."

The full interview with Jane Nicklinson will be broadcast on Lee Stone's programme on BBC Wiltshire at 16:00 BST.

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