SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Santa Fe woman is among the first, if not the first, people in New Mexico to end their life after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a medical aid in dying bill in April. Sharon King’s husband said his wife did not want chemo and did not want to suffer any longer.
He said on her own free will, Sharon decided to take the medication to end her life. “I wanted to take control and take the pain away, but I couldn’t,” Danny said. “I couldn’t take her pain away. You can’t handle this pain. I don’t want anyone to feel my pain.
Sharon, who was 61, is believed to be one of the first in New Mexico to choose to die from lethal medication. “She wanted to make the choice over cancer,” Danny said. “She didn’t want cancer to take control.”
Danny said they found out Sharon had stage 4 uterine cancer last month just days before the End of Life Options Act went into effect on June 18 in New Mexico. The law gives terminally ill patients like Sharon the right to choose when and how they die. “If you have a clear mind, it is not suicide,” Danny said.
The physician who provided the service, Dr. Maggie Wilson of Albuquerque, said to her knowledge, Sharon is the first person in the state to receive this treatment. “In medicine, you see a lot of uncomfortable or painful deaths,” Dr. Wilson said. “To give someone who has already suffered and who is going to die shortly a peaceful death, I think that is something important we can provide.”
Dr. Wilson said right now, the medication is around $700. She said the medication is mixed with apple juice and has to be self-administered by the patient and consumed within two minutes. Dr. Wilson said the patient goes to sleep and then passes away after a little more than an hour.
Danny said Sharon took the medication Wednesday evening at their Santa Fe home. “She drank it, went to sleep peacefully, and I left the room,” Danny said. “I don’t want the last memory of my wife laying there dead.”
Danny said while he respects his wife’s choice, he still misses her. “This wedding ring will never come off, never,” Danny said. “From the day I breathe and married her on 08-08-08, to the day I die, I will never take this ring off. There will never be another Sharon. She is my love, my life, my wife.”
This issue has been very controversial. Critics argued it would leave patients open to abuse and coercion by family members and insurance companies. Nine states, plus the District of Columbia, all have passed similar laws.
End of Life Options New Mexico said they are reaching out to larger health systems to get policies organized and clinicians trained on the new law. The non-profit said they are getting a couple of requests a day for information on medical aid in dying.