Tragically, the beautiful and courageous Annie Gabrielides passed away on 16 January 2018, aged 55. Her final moments were at home (her paradise) surrounded by her loving family. Annie had Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and spent the last precious year of her life being the public face of the campaign to support the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017.
Annie, her husband Paul, and their children invited Dying with Dignity NSW members into the family home in Sydney’s Blue Mountains at the beginning of 2017 to make a short video to support her Change.org Petition “Don’t leave me trapped in a dying body – allow me to die peacefully“. This video was watched by more than 250,000 people via social media and her Change.org petition achieved over 114,000 signatures
To promote the passage of NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 Annie and Paul Gabrielides wrote letters, gave media interviews and visited every NSW MP who would see them. Paul was still sending emails and engaging with politicians on the eve of the NSW Parliamentary debate.
On 7 November, Annie sent out an update on her Change.org message saying “My MND has progressed rapidly. I am now in a wheelchair and I am fed via a tube in my stomach to avoid choking. But as you can see from this photo, even in the most dire of circumstances, I intend to suck every drop of life, every drop of wine and every kiss. I want politicians to realise that this Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill is about LIFE not DEATH…Please help me by contacting your MP today and ask them to support this important Bill”.
Large numbers of people responded to Annie’s plea and engaged with their MP, via phone or letter or a personal visit.
Dying with Dignity NSW and the NSW Parliamentary Working Group on Assisted Dying believe we would not have come as close to passing the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 as we did, had it not been for the huge contribution to the campaign made by Annie, supported by her husband Paul and their three adult children. We will never forget her bravery and the generosity of her family in supporting our cause.
The board and members of Dying with Dignity NSW would like to sincerely thank Paul Gabrielides and the children of Annie and Paul, who supported Annie’s choice to advocate strongly for voluntary assisted dying. Their advocacy and assistance at such a tragic time in their lives was really appreciated by us all.
We are very hopeful that with the support of our members the next Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill to come before the NSW Parliament will pass. When we are in full campaign mode in 2019, we will be thinking of Annie, her courage, her commitment and her legacy to us.
For details of how Annie’s husband, Paul Gabrielides, plans to continue the fight for legalised voluntary assisted dying in NSW see our post on 14 June 2018 – Annie’s husband, Paul, joins Voluntary Euthanasia Party