Euthanasia campaigner Andrew Denton has heart disease

Andrew Denton Photo: Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

Comedian and former TV producer Andrew Denton has been diagnosed with advanced heart disease and must undergo a triple bypass.

The illness has forced the former host of Enough Rope to withdraw from campaigning in favour of voluntary euthanasia as the Victorian parliament prepares to introduce legislation to allow assisted death.

Denton is a director of the voluntary euthanasia lobby group Go Gentle Australia. He became an advocate after following the death of his father.

“I watched my father, Kit, suffer needlessly before be died. It was terrible to watch and it’s stayed with me ever since,” Denton wrote last month.

“A very clear majority of the community — about 70-75%, even among Anglicans and Catholics — consistently support the idea that people in the final stage of life should be able to voluntarily end their suffering with medical assistance.”

The Andrews government in Victoria is looking to introduce assisted dying laws in 2019 for people with advanced and incurable illness based on the recommendations of a review by former AMA president Professor Brian Owler.

It will only be available to people over 18 who live in Victoria and are Australian citizens or permanent residents.

MPs will be given a conscience vote on the legislation, and debate over the issue has begun to heat up, with Christian leaders issuing an open letter in opposition to the legislation on Monday.

Go Gentle issued a statement after news of Denton’s illness emerged yesterday saying “he is in very good hands, and looks forward to a life of rude good health on the other side of surgery”.

The 57-year-old is expected to have surgery in the next few days and if successful, Denton is expected to return to campaigning in September.