Television legend Andrew Denton will undergo multiple heart bypass surgery, forcing him to withdraw at a crucial time from the campaign to legalise assisted dying.
Denton, 57, has become a passionate advocate for euthanasia and is a director of Go Gentle Australia, a group set up to encourage debate on the issues around untreatable or terminal illnesses.
“Unfortunately, Andrew has recently been diagnosed with fairly advanced heart disease. He will be undergoing multiple bypass surgery shortly,” Go Gentle spokesperson Gina McColl told The New Daily.
“Andrew is keenly aware that this is a situation faced by many Australians. He feels very fortunate to have discovered it before something more serious happened, knows that he is in very good hands, and looks forward to a life of rude good health on the other side of surgery.”
She said the prognosis was “extremely good” and that Denton was expected to recover in good health.
“We’re still in daily contact. He’s still extremely funny and his humour is extremely black. He does need to take it easy just until he has the surgery and obviously then he’ll need to recover,” Ms McColl said.
“Andrew looks forward to rejoining the debate in early September.”
The Royal Australian College of Surgeons told The New Daily Denton must have been diagnosed with coronary artery disease.
“Bypass surgery can be performed on patients as young as 30 and as old as 80,” a spokesperson said.
“Outcomes for bypass surgery are generally very positive.”
Denton’s diagnosis comes as Victoria’s Labor state government plans legislation to allow assisted dying for the terminally ill in that state, if they have been given less than 12 months to live.
Fairfax media reported that the news of Denton’s diagnosis came as a huge blow to the campaign, with one supported reportedly saying that his absence from the campaign was a “disaster”, as the debate heats up this month.
The group’s campaign for voluntary assisted dying law reform in Victoria will continue under campaign manager, Paul Price.
“The Go Gentle campaign continues in full force. In the next weeks and months we will be marshalling the support of the more 75 per cent of Victorians who want to Voluntary Assisted Dying become law,” Mr Price said.
Denton set up the advocacy group after watching his father Kit die slowly and painfully from heart failure in 1997.
Denton previously hosted ABC interview program Enough Rope.
He has one son to wife Jennifer Byrne, a journalist who hosts ABC program First Tuesday Book Club.
Well-wishes began flowing for the television personality on Wednesday afternoon.
“Sending all the absolute best to Andrew Denton and his family, wishing him all the best on his road to wellness,” Rove McManus wrote on Twitter.
Jane Caro said: “Very best wishes to Andrew Denton and his family at the moment. I was shocked to hear of his illness, can’t imagine how they feel.”
The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance wished Denton a speedy recovery and said he was “a true stalwart” of the industry.
– with AAP