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This week a documentary captured the moment that paralysed Richard Rudd told doctors he wanted to live by blinking his eyes.

Locked-in syndrome can leave blinking as the only means of communication. Image: Filomena Scalise

It halted a decision from his family to turn off the life support machine which was keeping him alive.

Richard suffers from locked-in syndrome, he is awake and aware of his surroundings, but is paralysed so he can’t communicate.

Total locked-in syndrome is the paralysis of every part of the body making communication impossible.  In some cases, such as Richard’s, patients can still control their eyes.

Jean-Dominique Bauby also had the condition, the former editor of French fashion magazine Elle suffered a stroke.

Despite the illness the journalist wrote a book called The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.  A friend read through the alphabet and Bauby blinked at the correct letter to transcribe his memoir.

Image: Filomena Scalise /


The UK has been ranked top for provision of end-of-life care in an index drawn up by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

End of life care has been ranked at the top of 40 countries throughout the world. Image: vitasamb2001

The index ranked 40 countries on their treatment of the dying and because of palliative care, hospices and the access to pain killers, the UK ended up at the top.

Shockingly 8 per cent of people around the world don’t receive palliative care.

Palliative care in the UK involves supporting patients and their families when they are facing life-threatening illness.  The National Institute of Clinical Excellence believe this should include:

  • Treating dying as a normal process
  • Providing pain relief
  • Supporting patients and their family
  • Including psychological and spiritual aspects of care

Image: vitasamb2001 /

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