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'I made a living will - and tattooed part of it to my chest'

PUBLISHED: 12:35 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:27 08 October 2019

Nigel Thwaites of Attleborough who has had DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and his signature tattooed on his chest, and his blood group and date of birth tattooed on his arm. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Nigel Thwaites of Attleborough who has had DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and his signature tattooed on his chest, and his blood group and date of birth tattooed on his arm. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

A man determined to have control over his death has created a living will to refuse certain types of treatment - and tattooed it to his chest.

Nigel Thwaites' DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and his signature tattoo on his chest. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNigel Thwaites' DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and his signature tattoo on his chest. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Nigel Thwaites, from Attleborough, has an advance decision in place, a legally binding document sometimes known as a living will that allows people to refuse certain treatments in case they become unable to do so in future.

His is lodged with his doctors, and he carries a card setting out his advance decision - but decided to take it one step further with a permanent message, which he had tattooed several years ago.

Mr Thwaites, 52, decided to get the 'do not resuscitate' (DNR) tattoo - along with one showing his date of birth and blood group on his arm - after witnessing his dad face a difficult death.

Nigel Thwaites' blood group and date of birth tattoo on his arm. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNigel Thwaites' blood group and date of birth tattoo on his arm. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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"I read an article many years ago about an elderly lady who had '[please turn over]' tattooed on her back, and 'DNR' on her chest," he said.

"I quite liked that idea so it crossed my mind then.

"My father was very ill for a long time, he was kept alive too long and in the course of things it came back to me then.

"I decided to dot the Is and cross the Ts and cover as many of the bases as possible."

He said the tattoo had become a "conversation starter" and often raised questions.

"People will say to me 'do you mean it', but it is very permanent," he said. "While you can have a tattoo removed, doing this sort of thing you do have to think about the consequences.

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"It takes quite a lot of courage to do something like a DNR because you are clearly stating that you are of sound mind, and to leave you alone. It is contentious."

Mr Thwaites, who would like to see assisted dying laws introduced and researched his decision using the Dignity in Dying website, has spoken about his tattoo in a bid to encourage people to start a conversation about death.

"People are quite blinkered talking about it," he said. "But it's not just about the quality of life, sometimes it's about the quality of someone's death too.

"If it opens conversations and raises awareness of options people have then that's positive."

An advance decision can cover treatments including ventilation, antibiotics or CPR.

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