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Woman, 50, granted right to die after complaining she's 'lost her sparkle'

By Katie Wilson: ITV News

A judge has granted a 50-year-old woman who fears being "poor, ugly or old" the right to die after she complained she had "lost her sparkle".

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The woman, known only as C, destroyed her kidneys after trying to kill herself by taking an overdose when she found out she had breast cancer.

As a result she needs dialysis but refuses to undergo further treatment even though there is a high chance she will live.

One of her daughters told the Court of Protection the most important thing to her mother, who was described as "impulsive" and "self-centred", was her "sparkly lifestyle".

A judge was asked by King's College Hospital NHS Trust to decide if C had the mental capacity to refuse treatment.

And in a controversial decision, which Mr Justice MacDonald said many people may be "horrified" by, he ruled in her favour.

Many campaigners have had their right-to-die bids rejected by the High Court. Credit: PA

The court heard C placed a "significant premium on youth and beauty", had four marriages and a number of affairs and was "at times a completely indifferent mother to her three caring daughters".

Her current health problems were caused after she took a paracetamol overdose with Veuve Clicquot champagne.

In his ruling, he said:

The decision she has reached to refuse dialysis can be characterised as an unwise one.

That she considers that the prospect of growing old, the fear of living with fewer material possessions, and the fear that she has lost, and will not regain, 'her sparkle' outweighs a prognosis that signals continued life will alarm and possibly horrify many.

Her decision is certainly one that does not accord with the expectations of many in society.

Indeed, others in society may consider her decision to be unreasonable, illogical or even immoral within the context of the sanctity accorded to life by society in general. None of this, however, is evidence of a lack of capacity.

– Judge's ruling
Tony Nicklinson died after refusing to eat when his right-to-die bids were rejected. Credit: PA

The ruling will come as a blow to other right-to-die campaigners who tried and failed in their court bids.

Perhaps the most high profile case was that of locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony Nicklinson.

Mr Nicklinson, who was paralysed from the neck down, fought to have a doctor help him die on numerous occasions but each bid was rejected.

The 58-year-old eventually died after refusing food in August 2012.

Pavan Dhaliwal, Director of Public Affairs at the British Humanist Association, said C's case should not be confused with those seeking assisted death, adding she still had the right to refuse treatment.

She told ITV News: "We are firmly of the belief, as are the majority of the British public that if someone has made a settled, uncoerced decision to end their lives, the law should allow for a doctor to intervene.

"What this case centres on are the immensely important principles of personal freedom, self determination and autonomy.

"C has determined what gives her life meaning or ‘sparkle’, and whereas there may be many who disagree with her particular set of values, she nonetheless has every right to hold them, and to live her life accordingly.

"The Judge after hearing extensive evidence has declared that she does not lack mental capacity to make a decision regarding the refusal of treatment and patients, who are of sounds mind like C, have the legal right to refuse treatment."