Healthy man, 52, has 'do not resuscitate' tattooed on his chest

A man in perfectly good health has had 'do not resuscitate' tattooed on his chest after fearing he could come back "as a vegetable" if revived from a serious illness or injury.

Nigel Thwaites, 52, got the £50 tattoos after he took part in a defibrillator course at the insurance company he works for and after seeing his father suffer from poor health.

After doing the course he became aware that his quality of life could be very poor even if resuscitated following a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

So he made the decision to have DNR tattooed on his chest along with his blood type on his right arm in the case that his body would be used for organ donation.

He said: "I don't want to run the risk of not having a quality of life.

"I've made a living will and I think the tattoo is one of those things that you hope you never have to use.

"I spent quite a few months contemplating the tattoo and about seven years ago I went to a tattoo shop that had just opened up at the time.

'I didn't enjoy the pain'

"The tattoo artist was a little taken aback because I don't think he'd had a request like that before."

Mr Thwaites, from Attleborough, Norfolk, has no other tattoos and made it clear there won't be any more to follow.

"I didn't enjoy the pain, he said.

"The arm was alright but the sternum hurt like hell so I'm not in a rush to hurry back.

"I'm an organ donor and so that's why I had my blood group tattooed on my shoulder.

"I paid £50 for the tattoos which everyone told me was expensive but I wouldn't know - I thought it was alright.

'I don't want to come back as a vegetable'

"Speaking of when his thought process began, the divorced father said: "A number of years ago at work there was a defibrillator course and we all learnt CPR.

"Anyway they showed us this short video of someone incorrectly applying CPR.

"A lot of people don't know how to do CPR correctly and what happens is that the brain becomes starved of oxygen which causes a loss of faculties in that person.

"So my decision was that I don't want to come back as a vegetable and I decided I don't want to be resuscitated.

"It's not just about the quality of life, sometimes it's about the quality of someone's death too."

Mr Thwaites' father took a turn for the worse a number of years ago and watching his father deteriorate also played a part in his decision.

'I don't want to put my family through it'

He said: "My father had Parkinson's and motor neurone disease and while it's not genetic, almost every generation on my father's side had it.

"I don't want to put my family through it.

"I want to take away the conflict from my loved ones and I don't want them wondering what to do if I ever was left in a vegetative state unable to look after myself."

While his father's illness was a factor in his decision, it had been a part of Mr Thwaites' thought process for quite some time beforehand.

He said: "I was partially spurred by my father's ill health but that's not the whole story.

"My thought process started a long time ago after hearing a radio four programme called 'We need to talk about death'.

"It's a controversial topic because no-one likes to face their own mortality, but the reality is that we're probably going to live a lot longer than our bodies are designed to and so it's more than likely that we'll end up in care homes.

'There's a taboo when it comes to talking about death'

"However, people as a society don't necessarily look after the older side of society as well as we perhaps should do and I want to try and avoid that is possible."

While Mr Thwaites is a staunch believer in having the right to die, he was quick to highlight the importance of making such a decision.

He said: "A DNR is something that has to be a considered decision.

"In society there's a social taboo when it comes to talking about death.

"People don't talk about it and so don't understand it and they forget about the bit where you're going to suffer at the end.

"You should be able to choose how you die - where's the benefit in suffering?"