Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Husband's home death after battle

Peter Rees, Siaron West and their daughter Catrin
The couple had Christmas early with their daughter Catrin

A doctor who successfully fought for her terminally ill husband to die at home says he passed away peacefully days after celebrating Christmas early.

Siaron West was speaking two days after Pete Rees, 36, who had multiple sclerosis, died.

Mr Rees died at their Cardiff home with his wife and daughter Catrin, eight, at his side after a long illness.

Dr West said she was glad she had been able to grant her husband his final wish to be cared for and die at home.

"It was particularly the ending he wanted, all the way along he said he wanted to stay at home.

"I'd promised that I'd do that," said Dr West, 37.

The three opened Christmas presents together last week, putting a tree up in Mr Rees's room and fairy lights around his bed.

"Catrin decided that on Monday he had to open his Christmas presents and you know all along he had communicated that this was what he wanted, to be at home and he actually said he wanted to live long enough for Catrin to remember him."

Mr Rees died on Sunday with his family at his side.

"He wanted to be with me and Catrin, and there's a bit of me feels quite proud that I was able to keep that promise to him. And that gives me a bit of comfort now."

Mr Rees was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in 1995 and his wife said he had been "fairly ill" for about seven years.


Following the death of her husband Pete Rees, Siaron West, a GP, tells how she successfully fought for him to be allowed to die at home.

The GP had spent the past 18 months in a battle involving social services and the NHS to allow her to care for her husband at their home and not in a nursing home.

Earlier this year her local health board agreed to take over the care package which allowed her to continue caring for her husband at their home.

She said it had allowed him to form a very special bond with their young daughter.

"I would say only in the last six months or so has she really really expressed much more how much she loved him.

"So, you know, hours spent watching things like Only Fools and Horses and Blackadder where they were both laughing at things just gave them that joint shared experience that they could never have had if we'd just been visiting him in a nursing home."

For Pete and for me having choices meant that you felt in control of what is otherwise a horribly out-of-control situation
Siaron West

But Dr West also said she hoped their fight would pave the way for others in a similar situation, although she said what she had gone through had been "harrowing".

She said: "This is the first time that a local health board has agreed to directly take over a care package that was organised by social services."

The GP said she believed it was very important that the terminally-ill have choice in how they are looked after.

"Because it gives them dignity, it recognises the fact they are a human being with choices.

"For Pete and for me having choices meant that you felt in control of what is otherwise a horribly out-of-control situation.

"Pete knew all the way through that there was no way he was going into hospital and so I think that made it a lot easier for him because he knew that there was no way I would break that promise."

The GP said she hoped their battle for home care for her husband would help others "because it would be lovely to think that we hadn't gone through this just for ourselves."

"I would like to think that other people could look at our story and learn from it and realise that if you fight hard enough - and hopefully they won't have to fight quite as hard as we have - then you can make things better for your loved one."

Mr Rees's funeral is expected to take place in January.

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