FORMER palliative care nurse Kay Smith has called on “old die-hard” MSPs to reconsider their opposition to assisted dying.

The Kilwinning woman spent decades working in healthcare and is now receiving palliative care herself.

The mother-of-two has a combination of untreatable conditions which are likely to lead to death from sepsis.

She will soon undergo tests to establish whether or not her heart and circulation are deteriorating, impacting on the blood supply to her legs.

Amid the uncertainty, she is a vocal advocate for assisted dying and says the public is behind her.

READ MORE: Assisted dying debate: 'My husband begged me to help him die'

Polling for the campaign group Dignity in Dying found 40% of people have witnessed a family member or friend in “unbearable” suffering at the end of their life, despite palliative care.

And just 6% of people agree the law prohibiting assisted dying is “working well”, according to the research.

A cross-party group at Holyrood is working on the issue and the campaign hopes to see a consultation on the subject next year.

Unlike previous attempts to change the law, it seeks a system whereby a terminally ill person with six months to live and full mental capability would end their own life using a prescription.

The proposition does not allow for third parties to administer the fatal drug, a step the campaign says will act as a safeguard against abuses.

Care Not Killing, which opposes the changes, says that this cannot be guaranteed and “even in a free democratic society there are limits to human freedom and the law must not be changed to accommodate the wishes of a small number of desperate and determined people”.

READ MORE: We owe it to those who suffered to change assisted dying laws

Smith acknowledges that not all MSPs would personally support a shift which would amount to a UK first and could cause major conflict with faith-based organisations who aim to protect life above all else.

However, she said: “There are some old die-hards who have said they’ll never vote for it, but there’s a long road before we’ll have a bill that would be put to the MSPs. They’re too caught up in everything else that’s going on but the majority of the people are in favour.”

She went on: “It’s a choice for individuals to make. Those who want it should be able to do it at home and not go abroad. The majority of people in Scotland don’t have a spare £10,000 to take themselves off to Dignitas.”

Smith, who uses social media to press for change, said: “I get challenged on Twitter all the time about it. But my own priest is happy with the position that if someone wants to end their life a few days earlier medically, there should be nothing wrong with that. He can see it from my point of view and he doesn’t believe what I’m campaigning for is wrong.”

Smith has been diagnosed with Lupus, also known as Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), as well as a condition causing a severe allergy to pain medication and antibiotics.

As a result, she is likely to contract an otherwise-treatable infection and die of sepsis.

This could involve around 10 “extremely awful” days of pain and suffering – something she wants to spare her family.

She said: “I’ve seen a lot of people dying and I’ve held their hands at the end. No patient on my watch ever died alone. But it can be traumatic.

“I don’t want to leave that legacy. The last thing I want to do is leave them with a permanent horrible memory of my death.”

She went on: “The genie in the bottle is when you take about costs. It is £365 on average for a bed per night in a hospice. You could have somebody who is dying and you are going to block a bed for 14 days, three weeks, however long to prolong their life when basically they need to be let go.

“We have all got to die, it’s the one thing we all share whether we’re rich or poor.

“If you are in extreme pain and you’ve got a week left, why can’t they just let you go?”