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What Happened to Freeda Hayes?
by Robin Bowles
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Freeda Hayes was a suburban antique dealer, Daryl Stephens was a respected urology surgeon - separate worlds, yet their lives were destined to collide. In August 1999, Freeda Hayes was diagnosed with an aggressive form of kidney cancer. She was forty-seven. The hand of fate guided her to Dr Stephens, who performed a life-saving operation, giving her five precious months in which to say goodbye to family and friends. The operation also forged a special bond between Freeda and her doctor. On 4 February 2000 Freeda Hayes died in a hospice, following visits from her brother, her sister - and Daryl Stephens. She had been in intense pain for some weeks, and over the last few days had repeatedly asked to be allowed to die. However, hospice staff considered her sudden death suspicious and police were notified. Two months later, Daryl Stephens and Freeda's brother and sister were arrested and all three were charged with wilful murder, a charge carrying a mandatory 15 year prison sentence. Their nightmare had begun. Debate waged about public interest being served by charging a doctor with murder when evidence was at best, circumstantial. Pro- and anti- euthanasia lobbyists joined the argument raging over the first trial in Australia of a doctor accused of murder for 'helping' a patient to die. What Happened To Freeda Hayes? is a gripping story that takes the reader to the very heart of the euthanasia debate by examining the devastating effect the tragedy of Freedaís illness and death had on her family and those who treated her, and moral and social issues that we must all confront in dealing with a personís right to determine their own fate.
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