The right to decide

Eight years ago, Dominique Toussaint suffered a basilar artery thrombosis, which left him paralysed. Before long he learned to operate a specially adapted computer using just those vertical eye movements, and began to bombard media outlets, powerful organisations, leading political figures — anyone he could think of — with letters in which he pleaded to be allowed a dignified death.

His demands fell on deaf ears (though the French President sent him his best wishes) and, in desperation, he refused all food and treatment.

Eventually he came under the care of a new medical team, who unanimously agreed to stop giving him the two daily insulin injections that controlled his diabetes — a step both he and they knew would be lethal — if it was his genuine wish.

Taken aback by his change in fortune, Toussaint asked his children aged 11 and 13, what they expected of him. They replied that they wanted their father, invalid or no invalid, and he promised them he would live — a promise he intends to keep, at least until they have finished their education.