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25th Jun 2023

Woman, 23, with terminal illness ends life under new assisted dying laws

Steve Hopkins

‘You may have gone from our sight but you are never gone from our hearts’

A terminally ill woman has ended her life through assisted dying, at age 23.

Lily Thai had suffered “excruciating” pain from a rare condition known as autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy (AAG) – where a person’s body attacks their own nervous system – since she was a teenager.

By 17 the illness had left Lily bedridden and unable to move. In the weeks before her death the South Australian was receiving palliative care at the Laurel Hospice and was not well enough to go outside. Instead, she was comforted by friends and family at her bedside.

Lily’s family confirmed her passing this week after she used assisted dying laws to end her life.

In a death notice placed in the Adelaide Advertiser, Lily’s family announced she had “passed away peacefully” at Laurel Hospice at the Flinders Medical Centre on June 21.

The notice read: “Much loved daughter of Kate and Le.

“Beloved granddaughter, niece and cousin.

“Treasured friend to many.

“You may have gone from our sight but you are never gone from our hearts.”

In January, South Australia introduced legislation that made voluntary assisted dying (VAD) legal.

The medicine used to end Lily’s life was administered using an IV drip and she passed away within 10 seconds.

Speaking earlier to a local newspaper about her illness, Lily said it had “gotten to the place that I’ve lost control of everything else in my life, and I’ve been reliant on my dad as a caregiver to do everything for me, even the most intimate things.”

Lily recently opened up about the difficulty she was having with her treatment, saying: “I realised that I can’t have any more anaesthesia, so I [couldn’t] have any more feeding tube changes [or] surgeries.”

Explaining her decision to go ahead with ending her life, Lily said she will finally be “free” of the pain she has endured over the past few years, saying: “I’ll no longer have any pain, I will no longer suffer with any of these issues, and I’ll finally be free of all the suffering that I have endured for so many years.”

Lily was the daughter of highprofile culinary couple Le Tu Thai and Kate Sparrow.

Thai is a Vietnamese refugee who became one of Adelaide’s most respected chefs and along with her partner, gained acclaim through their Nediz Tu restaurant. Thai later took over the kitchen at the city’s famous Bridgewater Mill restaurant.

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