Fighting to Die: One Doctor’s Journey To Die With Dignity

Fighting to Die: One Doctor’s Journey To Die With Dignity


Desert Hot Springs, CA

Eighty-three-year-old Wayne McKinny is a retired doctor. He remembers being in his 40s and caring for a dying AIDS patient. It still haunts him 

"He was suffering just awfully and he begged me, he begged me to give him medication to end his life and I couldn’t do it, I knew that I would be arrested … and that’s something that I remember very well," says McKinny through tears.

Now he’s terminally ill and wants to be able to take life ending medication when his suffering gets unbearable.

But he says this hasn’t been easy, "Now I’m faced with doctors who are turning their backs on me."

Around the time he was diagnosed with cancer, it became legal in California for people with less than six months to live to end their lives with a prescription from a doctor. But it’s not allowed at the three hospitals in the valley. 

Related: Right To Die: Coachella Valley Residents Demand Change

"It was a violation of that famous, old, ancient, medical saying "doctor do no harm" and I felt that I was being harmed by their decisions," says McKinny.

But they do allow their doctors to prescribe the lethal medication off premises, on their own time.

McKinny says it’s still complicated for terminally ill patients to find a doctor and a place to end their lives, so he won’t give up advocating for the right to die until real changes come for people in the desert in his situation, "Oh this is fighting for everybody who’s being denied it now … that’s what I’m spending my final moments on earth doing."

Because he says his last wish is what he wishes for everyone, "When my time comes … that I will not have to suffer a prolonged and painful death."