HIS CHOICE: Barry Langbecker with his daughter Denise Kapernick, granddaughter Emily and his dog Bonn. This was the last day Barry was able to be wheeled outside as he wasn't able to be hoisted into his wheelchair again because his pain levels were unmanageable. Eventually, even cutting his fingernails brought him to tears.
HIS CHOICE: Barry Langbecker with his daughter Denise Kapernick, granddaughter Emily and his dog Bonn. This was the last day Barry was able to be wheeled outside as he wasn't able to be hoisted into his wheelchair again because his pain levels were unmanageable. Eventually, even cutting his fingernails brought him to tears.

This is for you Dad: Gympie woman pleads for euthanasia laws

"THE last day at his bedside we were listening to him drown."

This is how Denise Kapernick described the last moments of the life of her father Barry Langbecker.

She said it was part of a horrific final journey - one she hopes to ensure others do not have to suffer.

Ms Kapernick wants no one to have to go that way and she sees the way to avoid that is through voluntary end of life laws.

The Gympie resident has spoken of her dad's death in giving evidence at the Inquiry into Aged Care, End-of-Life and Palliative Care and Voluntary Assisted Dying at state parliament.

 

Barry Langbecker several years ago, with his beloved dogs.
Barry Langbecker several years ago, with his beloved dogs.

Fighting back tears as she spoke, Ms Kapernick told the inquiry her father deserved to have the choice to die on his terms in 2014.

Mr Langbecker was suffering with advanced oesophageal cancer along with Parkinson's disease and a multi-drug resistant staph infection.

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"But what took away his will to live was a catastrophic stroke which paralysed his left side completely, weakening his right side, leaving him bedridden for the last seven weeks and three days of his life," she told the inquiry.

She said he was given the maximum limits of morphine and other drugs but his pain was "unmanageable".

But even if could be controlled "the fact he was reliant on others to spoon feed him and clean his faeces was his worst nightmare," she said.

 

Denise Kapernick (GJ Gardner)
Denise Kapernick.

"He couldn't feed himself, or sit up in bed, or read a newspaper, or go and sit outside with his little dog," Ms Kapernick said through tears at the inquiry last Friday.

His only option was to refuse to take his Parkinson's medication.

This affected his swallow reflex, basically starving himself to death.

"Dad decided to do just that," Ms Kapernick said.

However, ultimately he died not of starvation "but when he drowned in his own phlegm".

The inquiry's report is due to be handed down on November 30 - however, Ms Kapernick said yesterday there has been talk of changing that to March in the wake of the controversial closure of the Gold Coast's Earle Haven aged care centre.

This, she said, risked making the issue a political football - something it should not become.

 

Lloyd Evans removes a TV that belongs to his mother from Earle Haven at Nerang. Picture Glenn Hampson
Lloyd Evans removes a TV that belongs to his mother from Earle Haven at Nerang. Picture Glenn Hampson Glenn Hampson

"It's too urgent," she said - aged care and voluntary end of life were separate issues.

And with overwhelming support across Australia for voluntary euthanasia, she said politicians needed to endorse what the people want.

"They must vote for their constituents, not for their own personal or political beliefs, 92 per cent Australia wants it - so they need to listen to us.

"The people who oppose it are welcome to. But the people who want it need to be able to make the choice themselves."