A blood cancer patient has urged lawmakers in Scotland to follow the example of his Australian homeland by making assisted suicide legal for those with terminal illnesses.

Luke Johnston-Smith, an IT consultant who was diagnosed in 2020 with myeloma - an incurable blood cancer which usually affects over 60s - said it would be "peace of mind" for himself and his loved ones to know that he could end his life peacefully when the time felt right.

He said: "I would like to be part of that decision. I don't want to live out a long, slow, horrible death - that's just not dignified. That's not who I am."

Mr Smith, 43, is originally from Melbourne but has lived in Scotland for 17 years and shares a home in Dalkeith, Midlothian with his Scottish husband.

READ MORE: The case of 'Mr B' - A doctor's perspective on assisted suicide, over-medicalising the end of the life, and a 'third way' 

He is lending support to MSP Liam McArthur's Assisted Dying Bill as new research by campaigners, Dignity in Dying, found that the average cost for a terminally ill person travelling from Scotland to Switzerland to end their life is now £15,000 – up by £5,000 since 2018.

New polling by YouGov also found that eight in 10 Scots support the proposed change in the law to allow mentally competent adults with a terminal illness the right to be prescribed a lethal dose of medication which they would have to self-administer.

Two previous attempts to pass assisted dying legislation at Holyrood - in 2010 and 2015 - were rejected by a majority of MSPs.

The Herald: Poling indicates that 80 per cent of people in Scotland would like to see the law changedPoling indicates that 80 per cent of people in Scotland would like to see the law changed (Image: Getty)

It is estimated that around 650 terminally ill people take their lives every year in the UK, with many more making failed suicide attempts.

However, data is limited and inconsistent. Only 10 of the 14 health boards in Scotland keep records of suicides or attempted suicides among patients receiving specialist palliative care in hospital.

According to data obtained under freedom of information by Dignity in Dying - and provided to the Herald - three out of the 10 had recorded at least one such episode over the past five years, but exact numbers are unclear.

Mr Smith said he is "exhausted" after years of treatment, which includes a stem cell transplant in 2021 and a 10-hour operation in July this year to remove a large secondary tumour from his forehead.

Surgeons had to rebuild his face using donor tissue from the inside of his arm and skin grafts from his abdomen.

The Herald: Mr Smith - pictured in December 2022 - said the past three years since his myeloma diagnosis have been 'utterly relentless'Mr Smith - pictured in December 2022 - said the past three years since his myeloma diagnosis have been 'utterly relentless' (Image: Gordon Terris/Herald&Times)

He is now undergoing high-dose radiation therapy to try to prevent it recurring and while his myeloma is in remission, it will return. Average survival is seven to 10 years.

In addition, Mr Smith suffers "a raft of medical complications" as a result of a weakened immune system, including shingles in his eye and colorectal abscesses requiring surgical intervention.

He said: "It's been three years of hell basically. I'm so tired. I am super grateful for the medical care that I'm receiving - it's amazing - but at what point is it enough for one person to bear?"

As an Australian citizen, Mr Smith would have the right to an assisted suicide in his home state of Victoria where the legislation was passed in 2017.

READ MORE: Glasgow pensioner backs right to die law change after father 'starved to death' in cancer ordeal

However, he said he wants to die in Scotland with his husband, friends and family here.

"I've lived here for 17 years. My home is here now. You have to be terminal when the decision is made - I don't want to be trying to get on a plane and flying to the other side of the world away from my friends and family. It's just not something I should have to consider.

"I've got my husband of 15 years - obviously he'd come with me - but I've got my in-laws here, and really close friends. I want those people around me at the end of my life."

He added that the couple could not afford alternatives such as Dignitas, but stressed that he would never want to put his husband at risk of prosecution for accompanying him to the Swiss clinic.

"That's non-negotiable," said Mr Smith.

READ MORE: Legalising assisted suicide 'will put vulnerable people at risk'

He added that he is hopeful the law could change in Scotland in time for him to have the choice.

"It would give me peace of mind to have that option on the table.

"People get hung up on whatever argument they want to use against it, but until you've walked in people's shoes who've gone through this - it changes you.

"I've had incredible treatment, but I've been on the haematology ward and I've seen what's down the line when it becomes terminal and it's horrifying - something no human being should have to endure."

The Herald: Liam McArthur MSP is due to bring his Assisted Dying Bill to Holyrood, where MSPs are expected to be given a free voteLiam McArthur MSP is due to bring his Assisted Dying Bill to Holyrood, where MSPs are expected to be given a free vote (Image: PA)

Ally Thomson, director for Dignity in Dying Scotland - which backs Mr McArthur's Bill - said: “Luke’s experience shows exactly the kind of difficult decisions that many dying people, already dealing with so much, have to make while the ban on assisted dying persists.

"It is clearly wrong that people facing a bad death are forced to contemplate Switzerland, taking matters into their own hands, suffering or stopping eating and drinking as the only options available should they go beyond the limits of palliative care."