Woman succeeds in starving herself to death

Margaret Page, the Wellington woman whose refusal to eat food sparked a vigorous ethical debate, died last night. She was 60.

Mrs Page, who suffered a cerebral haemorrhage 20 years ago, had refused to eat food for the past 16 days, taking only the occasional sip of water. She told the Dominion Post newspaper a week ago that she no longer wanted to live.

Her death, at 7.30pm, was confirmed by the St John of God Haurora Trust, who owns the St John of God Wellington residential care home in suburban Karori where she was staying.

Trust chief executive Ralph La Salle said staff and residents were deeply saddened by Mrs Page's death.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs Page and her family and have been throughout the past weeks - a time which has been exceptionally difficult and emotional for Mrs Page, her family, other residents, staff and everyone who knew her," he said.

"We continued to provide a very high level of care for Mrs Page until her death. We worked closely with her GP, who visited daily, the Ministry of Health and staff from the Mary Potter Hospice, who also provided care to Mrs Page."

Mrs Page suffered a cerebral haemorrhage 20 years ago and was cared for by her husband Barry Page until 2006 when she went to Residential Care at Maddison, as it was known before its acquisition in February this year by the St John of God Hauora Trust.

Mr La Salle said that food and water had been offered to Mrs Page by staff members whenever they went into her room and at regular intervals. In addition, a staff member was dedicated to Mrs Page's care during the last period of her life.

"Mrs Page maintained her resolve to refuse food until the very end of her life," he said.

Mrs Page's refusal to eat sparked a vigorous debate between pro-euthanasia and pro-life groups.

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