Dr. Jack Kevorkian dead at 83
June 3rd, 2011
08:49 AM ET

Dr. Jack Kevorkian dead at 83

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan pathologist who put assisted suicide on the world's medical ethics stage, died early Friday, according to a spokesman with Beaumont Hospital. He was 83.

The assisted-suicide advocate had been hospitalized in Michigan for pneumonia and a kidney-related ailment, his attorney Mayer Morganroth has said.

The music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Kevorkian's favorite musician, was put on the intercom so he could hear the music as he was dying, Morganroth said.

The 83-year-old former pathologist had struggled with kidney problems for years and had checked into a hospital earlier this month for similar problems, his lawyer, Mayer Morganroth, told CNN last month. He checked back into Beaumont Hospital in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak on May 18 after suffering a relapse, Morganroth said.

Kevorkian, dubbed "Dr. Death," made national headlines as a supporter of physician-assisted suicide and "right-to-die" legislation. He was charged with murder numerous times through the 1990s for helping terminally ill patients take their own lives.

He was convicted on second-degree murder charges in 1999 stemming from the death of a patient who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease. He was paroled in 2007.

After his release, he said he would not help end any more lives.

In an interview with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta last year, Kevorkian said he had no regrets about his work.

"No, no. It's your purpose (as a) physician. How can you regret helping a suffering patient?" he said.

In that interview, Kevorkian said that he had three missions in life and that he himself was not ready to die.

One of his missions was to warn mankind of "impending doom" that will come from the culture of overabundance.

"I'm not going to be too popular for that one," he said.

His second mission was to educate people about assisted suicide, and his belief that in states where assisted suicide has been legalized, it is not being done right. He believed that people shouldn't have to be terminal in order to qualify for help in ending their own lives.

Kevorkian's third stated mission was to convince Americans that their rights are being infringed upon by bans on everything from smoking to assisted suicide.

In 2008, at the age of 79, he had a failed run for Congress in Michigan.

Morganroth told the Detroit Free Press it appears Kevorkian suffered a pulmonary thrombosis when a blood clot from his leg broke free and lodged in his heart. With Kevorkian were his niece Ava Janus and Morganroth.

“It was peaceful," Morganroth told the paper. "He didn’t feel a thing."

Kevorkian's interviews with CNN in past years:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: I've rarely been at a loss for words when conducting an interview

soundoff (1,212 Responses)
  1. DougA1

    A hero for sure.Thanks

    June 3, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. Francis Marino

    Rest in Peace

    June 3, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. NJmike

    He died doing what he loved....dying

    June 3, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chitown

    Who gives a crap if he was a Christian. What does that have to do with the price of tea? Jeez, bible thumpers. Not really sure why that comment is there. Some people have only time to read their bibles and point fingers after doing so. Ironic.

    RIP Kevorkian. You allowed people to die with dignity.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • opinion

      I agree. He helped people die with dignity. He helped them be in charge of their own lives and he paid a heavy price by going to jail for his believes. My Mum went thru agonizing bone cancer and often said she wished someone would help her die in peace. Instead she had to die a horrific, extrememly painful and slow death. Rest in peace, Mr. Kevorkian – you have helped a lot of people with your kindness.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. james cueto

    I have to say that I never agreed with assisted suicide,, it has the word SUICIDE in it.. How can you make a rational decision when you are on your death bed? How can you assist someone with suicide if they can't even move? You couldn't make a legal will in that state of mind.. This was plain murder.. Just because you have family permission doesn't make it right.. I saw my mother dying and die in my arms.. I would have never been able to make that decision.. It's not for humans to decide..Bye the way, living a long life is not necessarily God's blessing.. Think about all the heartache and pain that we would go through living that long.. P.s JW you're an idiot

    June 3, 2011 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
    • JOey

      If it not for humans when to decide, then we certainly shouldn't bother with medicine to help people stay alive.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Nicolas Olivier

      The decision to die with dignity should be the right of the person suffering. Enough with all of your mumbo jumbo about what a few freaks have reported that God told them. By the way, Jesus Christ committed suicide. He refused to back down from his outlandish claim – in which case Pontious Pilate would have commuted his death sentence.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • grandpaof3

      What about those of us who don't live by your god's rules? Can we do something different as long as we don't bother you and others who are different? Please ... (I am asking nicely.)

      June 3, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Barry Ziegler

    Providing people with cyanide pills in case they feel they need them is assissted suicide. Hooking people up to machines then deliberately killing them is murder. Dr. Death was not a hero, he was a monster. My personal motto is: While you may feel, in your judgement, that, when my time comes, it is ok to kill me, I promise NOT to do the same to you.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • JDT

      so living one's last years in extreme pain is preferrable to death? He was a hero. He provided WILLING people a way out of constant pain...

      June 3, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      This is not about anyone making the choice for you, it is about making your OWN choice. The people that Dr K assisted approached him, and were willing participants. What right do you have to interfere in someone else's decision to end their own suffering?

      June 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • grandpaof3

      Nice personal motto, but could you please keep it "personally" to yourself? I have a bunch of personal mottos too, but I don't force you to believe in them. See the point!

      June 3, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KristinaKaye

    Don't you jus love the world of intelloigent conversation!!!

    June 3, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • KristinaKaye

      Let me try that again without the typos ... Don't you just love the world of intelligent conversation?!

      June 3, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  8. D. Sharpe

    From the the beginning of hearing the reports of Jack's mission to mercifully assist those who come to the decision to end a life that has lost any quality, I have believed in his integrity,compassion and admired his steadfast determination to change our laws to allow each individual the absolute right to take control of their own life and death in the case of extreme suffering. In Jack's own words: "My aim in helping the patient was not to cause death". "My aim was to end suffering. It's got to be decriminalized" Jack was an exceptional man, fighting the system, and doing jail time to push for this basic human right long into his golden years when he could have just sat back and watched from the sidelines. He did not and could not. Jack was an exceptional doctor and human being. RIP Jack.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. bezerkur

    i salute you dr. a visionairy who brought a peaceful death to those who were suffering terminal illnesses. and our judicial system locked him away for giving families peace of mind. if u ask me i believe the medical field and drug companies are threatened by this humane practice because it cuts into their revenue. we can put our beloved pets down and encouraged by our vets when they are suffering but not to our own family if we wish it? some may not understand that comparison, but thats a whole other topic. r.i.p dr.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. littleln

    I'm baffled how we can live in a society that allows things like abortions and the death penelty but will not allow it's citizens the same dignity that a horse or a dog may recieve in it's final hours. If your life is not even really your own to do with as you please, what are things coming to? I hope that when my time comes things are different and that my fate and my choices will be my own and not the governments.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. mejazzbo

    You saved a number of people a good deal of pain. I hope I can find someone like you to help me when I need it. RIP, Hero.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. JH1978

    In Memoriam: Dr. Death

    You were the dog
    that ran out
    Ahead of the pack.
    You were the horse
    That didn't know its own name.

    I remember when I was a kid
    I thought you were,
    A sort of freak,
    Because all the adults in my life
    Said you were.
    But I noticed
    In their faces
    as they said it,
    In row homes
    In trailer parks
    In campsites
    Feeding me on WIC checks
    A sort of
    Desperate sadness,
    That betrayed what it meant
    To be an adult.
    And how death
    Once you're old
    Is a very real
    And desirable

    So Dr. Death...
    I love you
    As much as I love
    My own father.
    And so I give this
    Poem to you,
    To kiss off into
    The electronic graveyard:

    You fought a good fight
    To the end
    And kept up your oath
    Which I guess, to you, meant something.
    "Do no harm."
    And you didn't.
    This morning the sun came up
    The morning birds sang
    To me
    And the Sun will go down again
    And the
    Evening birds will
    Sing to me
    With luck.

    And you will have done some good
    Which will be remembered
    And may you live for a long time
    On the breath of men
    Who speak the truth.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • BellaBlu

      Thank you for sharing, it was a moving poem.
      RIP Jack. Thanks for understanding pain and wanting to help.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • grandpaof3

      Thank you!

      June 3, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. samm

    I don't believe that someone who tried to play God can be called a hero. He assisted people in committing suicide. May God have mercy on his soul. I wouldn't want to be his soul.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • MJL

      There is no god.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • pk

      aren't all dr's playing god? when they fight to bring someone back to life, are they not defying god's will then too? what gives you the right to determine how other people chose to end theirs if it has no effect on you?

      June 3, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • ldean50

      by your logic . . . is a soldier playing god when he pulls the trigger and kills his enemy. Should he be condemned as well? Yet, we give him medals and call him hero.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • grandpaof3

      samm: you don't deserve to be his soul. Go find yours. It maybe a good one, it may be a bad one, I really don't care. But the point is "don't tell me what NOT to do" as long as I am not doing it to you!!!

      June 3, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. WHy

    Why the praise for this murderer?
    He was no hero. He killed people in the back of a van with dope and a trash bag.
    This was not a guy crusading for end of life compassion. He was a serial killer who used his medical licence to get away with murder.
    Those of you who believe in "death with dignity" should recognize that this guy was the exact opposite of what you mean.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • MJL

      You are blind.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • grandpaof3

      Do you really care about those of us who choose to control our own destimy? You are really that caring? Or is there some other motives? Economic? Religious? What? What? Think deep.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dennis

    Goodbye Jack, you understood suffering.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
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