A 3D-printed pod, intended for use in assisted suicide, has successfully passed a legal review in Switzerland and should be ready for operation in the country next year, its creator has said.
Euthanasia is legal in the European country, with 1,300 people having had recourse to the procedure in 2020, according to data from its two main assisted suicide organizations.
Service-users' lives were ended through the ingestion of liquid sodium pentobarbital, which puts patients into a deep coma before their passing, but Dr Philip Nitschke, the developer behind the sci-fi-evoking Sarco capsule is suggesting another approach, promising his clients a swift and peaceful death without any drugs.
His pod achieves its goal by being filled with nitrogen, thus rapidly reducing the concentration of oxygen and killing the person inside through hypoxia and hypocapnia.
The user of Sacro "will feel a little disoriented and may feel slightly euphoric before they lose consciousness," Nitschke explained, in an interview with website SwissInfo on Saturday. He also said death is brought about in 30 seconds through this method, and that "there is no panic, no choking feeling."
The machine is activated from the inside, and the person in the capsule can press a button "in their own time" without needing assistance, the Australian doctor said. The pod is also mobile and may be transported to any location of the patient's choosing - be it a special assisted suicide facility or an "idyllic outdoor setting."
The legal review of the technology, which started last year, has now been completed and, Nitschke said, "we're very pleased with the result, which found that we hadn't overlooked anything ... There are no legal issues at all."
The third prototype of the Sarco pod is currently being 3D-printed in the Netherlands and "should be ready for operation in Switzerland in 2022," he added.
In a promo clip last year, Nitschke said that he was planning to make the technology free. The program to print the capsule would be made available online and "that would allow us to spread the idea around the world," he explained.