Euthanasia woman's complicated exit

A harrowing report in Fairfax newspapers at the weekend recounted the story of NSW accountant and political activist Aina Ranke, who told reporters she planned to end her life on Thursday 19 September after being diagnosed with a degenerative neuromuscular condition that was stopping her speaking and swallowing and left her in constant agony.

According to the article, she took pentobarbital (Nembutal), which she had illegally imported, as planned at about midday on 19 September while her home-care assistant was away. The assistant would have been obliged to call an ambulance had she been present.

However, the assistant returned at 3pm, earlier than expected, and found Ms Ranke unconscious but alive and called an ambulance. She was rushed to hospital, where doctors were reluctant to turn off the respirator for fear of assisting a suicide and breaking the law.

The following Monday a brain scan showed Ms Ranke had no brain function and doctors switched