A grandmother who wants doctors to let her die if she falls ill has had ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ tattooed across her chest – and ‘PTO’ on her back.
Joy Tomkins, 81, decided she did not want to be brought back to life in a medical emergency following the slow death of her husband Malcolm.
The mum-of-two, who is not terminally ill, visited a tattoo parlour in January this year and paid £5 to have ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ written across her chest to ensure that doctors respect her ‘right to die’.
“There is enormous pressure on doctors and paramedics, often from the relatives, to try to revive patients at any cost, even when the patient has made their wishes clear on hospital notes,” she said.
‘I don’t want to upset anyone but this is something I feel strongly about. I won’t change my mind I never do and my children support me in this.
‘That is why I got the tattoo. I have all sorts of things wrong with me but my head is fine. I don’t have a death wish I just don’t want to be kept alive in pain.’
She added that she had had 80 good years and that “I’m quite happy if I wake up in the morning, but if I don’t I’m just as happy.”
She said her two children are aware of her views and don’t argue about her decision.
Tomkins got the idea for the message from Frances Polack, a retired nurse who had “Do Not Resuscitate” set around a red heart with a line through it tattooed on her chest in 2003. Although the 85-year-old carried a living will in her handbag, she was afraid it might not be discovered.
Dr Anna Smajdor, a lecturer in medical ethics at the University of East Anglia’s Medical School, said a tattoo would not be effective as a sole way of ensuring wishes are fulfilled, as they would not be legally binding.