A woman who was left paralysed after falling down the stairs has said that she's 'ready to go to Dignitas'.

Sharon Johnston, said she came to terms with her prognosis 'there and then' after doctors told her she would never walk again three years ago.

Life ever since for the 59-year-old has been one of pain and suffering, so much so she's made plans to travel to Switzerland where she'll ask doctors to help her die.

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That option is not currently available to her in the UK - but peers will debate an Assisted Dying Bill in the House of Lords which could change the law.

Whereas some campaigners believe the proposals could leave some patients vulnerable to coercion, Sharon is adamant that it is her right to decide if she wants to die.

Sharon's accident was a freak event that could have happened to anyone.

She'd gone upstairs to wash and change and put her pyjamas on early but as she came back down, she lost her footing and crashed headfirst to the bottom.

And that was it, she just couldn't move. She'd fractured several bones in the top of her neck and was paralysed.

"As soon as the consultants went through the scans they said this is it, you're not going to get any better," Sharon, who is from Aberystwyth told WalesOnline.

"There's no medical intervention that's going to help.

"I came to terms with it there and then, I've just got to make the best of it and do what I can."

She was left with virtually no movement in her body, apart from some movement in one hand which allows her to operate her specially adapted wheelchair. She is doubly incontinent and relies on carers four times a day. Even so, life is still impossibly hard, she said.

"I was fine in hospital," she said. "I was in the spinal unit and you've got some sort of comfort blanket. But back home, I'm here on my own and this is it.

"I've made the best of it but the pain and suffering is just too much. It feels like I've been kicked. It's because I can't move."

As a single person with no close family Sharon, who used to run a pub and worked in a bookmaker's, hates relying on others. She used to love travelling and had dreamed of seeing the world when she retired. But that chance was snatched away from her in a blink of an eye.

"I'm not depressed, I don't feel sorry for myself," Sharon continued

"I feel trapped in a body that doesn't work for me. I just want relief and dying is the only way. Life is horrible.

"I'm an outgoing person and I don't want to live this life and it's only going to get harder."

Even if the potential legalisation, which would allow terminally ill adults to request assistance to end their own life, is passed, it won't actually apply to people like Sharon.

The Assisted Dying Bill proposes that only terminally ill patients with full mental capacity who are not expected to live more than six months would be eligible to apply for an assisted death.

Two independent doctors and a High Court judge would have to determine that the patient has come to the decision themselves, and has not been coerced and only then could they be prescribed lethal medication - which they'd have to take themselves.

Sharon wants the law extended to apply to people in her position too.

"It's not going to open the floodgates of people wanting to die," she continued. "It's not going to be like that. There would be safeguards in place. The law should go through."

She maintains she'd have the same outlook, even if she hadn't been injured. It's "only fair" she should be allowed to choose to die in the same way as the terminally ill, she said.

"My suffering and pain isn't any less than those who are terminally ill," she added. "Equal suffering should mean equal treatment by the law."

Trevor Moore, chair of the campaign group My Death, My Decision said Sharon’s story "underscores the critical need for lawmakers not to forget about those it does not seek to help – the incurably suffering".

Mr Moore added: "The case for reforming our outdated and cruel laws on assisted dying is stronger than ever before. Around the world more than 300 million people have a right to die, proving that robust safeguards can be balanced against a respect for autonomy; public opinion has risen to nearly nine in ten (88%) people favouring reform and significantly half of all doctors personally support changing the law.

"With at least one Brit now travelling to Switzerland to end their life every week, politicians cannot afford to leave the issue of assisted dying in the ‘too-hard to solve’ category."

But the legislation faces strong opposition and previous attempts to introduce similar laws have all been defeated.

The British Medical Association has now moved to a position of neutrality on Assisted Dying. A BMA members' survey in 2020 showed a majority of doctors (59 per cent) would prefer a law inclusive of both the terminally ill and incurably suffering.

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Baroness Ilora Finlay of Llandaff - a Professor of Palliative Medicine - has said she will be voting against the bill.

She argued its qualifying criteria remain too vague: "Many people are unaware of the dangers in going down this road," she said.

"The bill has qualifying criteria that are not safe, cannot be verified with certainty and are far too vague." She believes those criteria would only widen further.

Baroness Meacher who has presented the bill is chairman of Dignity in Dying, a group campaigning for change across the UK.

She said her private member’s bill would 'enable terminally ill, mentally competent people whose suffering is beyond the reach of palliative care to die well and on their own terms, should they choose it'.

She added: "Meanwhile, the current law thwarts open discussion between dying people, their doctors, friends and family, forcing people to suffer unbearably against their wishes or contemplate sedation, starvation, suicide or Switzerland."

The last thing Sharon wants is a 'botched suicide'. But that remains her only real option currently.

She has joined various right-to-die groups as well as Dignitas and is planning to pay around £14,000 to travel to Switzerland where doctors are allowed to assist certain patients to die. But unable to get there from her home in Ceredigion alone, she knows that anyone who helps her could be arrested and prosecuted for helping her die.

Dying with the aid of professionals 'is the way to go', Sharon said.

She continued: "I know it's only going to get harder. My spine is going to crumble and the pain will get worse.

"I'm ready to go to Dignitas."