A young disabled man who receives care for his life-limiting illness at a hospice run by a nun spoke yesterday of his decision to use a prostitute to experience sex before he dies.
Sister Frances Dominica gave her support to 22-year-old Nick Wallis, who was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Sufferers usually die by their thirties.
Mr Wallis told staff at the Douglas House hospice in Oxford that he wanted to experience sexual intercourse. He explained that he had hoped to form an intimate and loving relationship with a woman, but his disability had acted as a barrier.
He told The Daily Telegraph: “It was a decision two years in the making and I discussed it with my carers and my parents. Telling my mother and father was the hardest part, but in the end they gave me their support.
“There are many aspects of life that an able-bodied person takes for granted but from which I am excluded.
“I had hoped to form a relationship when I went to university, but it didn’t happen. I had to recognise that if was to experience sex I would have to pay for it out of my savings. My mind was made up before I discussed it with anyone else.”
The hospice staff, after taking advice from a solicitor, the clergy and health care professionals, decided to help him.
“I found an advert from a sex worker in a magazine for the disabled,” said Mr Wallis. “The initial contact was by email and then by phone.”
It was arranged for the prostitute to visit his home in Northampton. “My parents went out,” he said.
“It was not emotionally fulfilling, but the lady was very pleasant and very understanding. I do not know whether I would do it again. I would much rather find a girlfriend, but I have to be realistic.”
Mr Wallis has decided to talk in public about his decision as part of the BBC documentary series about life inside Douglas House and its associated hospice for children, Helen House.
“I have done so in order that people may understand the issues that face people in my situation. I suppose some people may be judgmental.”
He said he did not discuss his decision directly with Sister Frances, who founded the two hospices. “But I know she gave me her support.”
Sister Frances described Mr Wallis as “delightful, intelligent and aware young man”.
“I know that some people will say ‘You are a Christian foundation. What are you thinking about?’. But we are here for all faiths and none,” she said.
“It is not our job to make moral decisions for our guests. We came to the conclusion that it was our duty of care to support Nick emotionally and to help ensure his physical safety.”
Mr Wallis’s story can be seen on The Children of Helen House, BBC2, 10pm Tuesday.