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A locked-in syndrome patient has tweeted for the first time. It is believed to be the first time ever a patient with this condition has tweeted using special eye movement technology. Tony Nicklinson, who seven years ago had a major stroke that left his body completely paralysed, but his mind unharmed, tweeted the simple message:
@TonyNicklinson Hello world. I am tony nicklinson, I have locked-in syndrome and this is my first ever tweet. #tony
The moment was captured by Channel 4 Dispatches ahead of a programme which broadcasts next week (Monday 18th June at 8pm) about Tony's life and his forthcoming landmark court hearing, which will directly consider for the first time the question of euthanasia - where a doctor is authorised to take the life of a patient.
The embeddable video is available to watch above and via You Tube.
Tony, who is confined to a single room in his family home and requires round the clock care, has described his house as a ‘prison'. He was excited to use Twitter for the first time to communicate to the world. Within hours of his first tweet he had over 1,500 Twitter followers and hundreds of positive comments and retweets. Tony now plans to tweet daily and will be tweeting live from @TonyNicklinson during the broadcast of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme. Tony can only communicate by using a computer that follows his eye movements. Software converts his eye movement into the letters of the alphabet and in turn into words and speech.
Life before Tony's Stroke
In 2005 Tony suffered a stroke while on a business trip in Athens. Where once Tony travelled the world, life is now confined to a single room at his home. Before the stroke Tony regularly travelled for work and settled in Dubai where he and wife Jane began a family. The 6ft 4, father of two was a keen rugby player and loved extreme sports.
The Court Case
Next Tuesday (19th June) at the High Court in London Tony Nicklinson's request will be given a full hearing by three judges. Whereas previous cases have sought to clarify the law on assisted suicide, this case also represents a fundamental challenge to the law on murder. The courts have never directly considered the question of euthanasia - where a doctor is authorised to take the life of a patient. Because Tony is so severely disabled he is unable to take his own life. He would need someone else to do it for him. But that's against the law. Currently there are only two very specific circumstances under which the law might allow the taking of a life: One is self-defence and the other absolute necessity. At the hearing the Tony's lawyer will argue that anyone who ends Tony's life should be able to plead necessity as a defence - because the alternative - forcing him to stay alive - is worse.
Notes to Editor
Tony's story will broadcast on Channel 4 Dispatches on Monday 18th June at 8pm and afterwards online at www.channel4.com/dispatches
Follow @TonyNicklinson and join the conversation using the hashtag #tony