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. Woody

    Hopefully, common sense, compassion and pragmatism, will someday, overcome the archaic laws based on religious fairy tales. Most of the comments, so far, have been very positive. I'm very surprised that there are not more comments from the fundie crowd claiming Kevorkian is now burning in their imaginary hell. He truly was a hero who sacrificed a great deal for a cause that he believed was just and merciful. I'm sure that history will, one day, give him the recognition he deserves.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. Steven Stanlee

    RIP Dr. K.- one day both you and ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER will be named as true Saints.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. Nicolas Olivier

    The world has too many people in it already. If someone wants to check out early, then it should be considered a good thing.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  4. Ed

    Everyome has the ability, if not right, to end their own life. A terminally ill person can commit suicide. No outsider and especially a doctor should be involved. When doctors are given the right to decide who lives or dies – that is directly against what doctors are suppose to do and a dangerous power to give them. Where does it stop and how do they decide who should be allowed to die?

    June 3, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. fatima

    Baby killer, you took my best friend awau from me and your followers think your a hero for that? If people needed help killing themselves they should just move to a third world country.

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

      Moron, what kind of friend are you if you'd rather have someone suffer before they die instead of dying peacefully.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • asd

      "baby" killer? what are you talking about? Unless the baby could talk and let him know their wishes he did not kill a baby.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim Stuart

      A true humanitarian has left us. Helping those in need of relief of suffering is an act of faith, human respect, free choice and perhaps the most compassionate unselfish dedication to respect of another human being. God bless you Jack. You are by his side now. Your detractors who took no time to understand the need of others are irrelevant and for the most part hateful human beings who won't be joining you in heaven. So sad.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Kinn

      Fatima, your ignorance makes me laugh. If people want to die, they should move to a third world country? The only thing that would do is make them poor. Obviously, people are alive and kicking in third world countries or they would not be countries now would they? Hmmm the words “baby killer” usually co-exists with some type of use of the word abortion. In addition, in no way, shape or form is that Dr. jack k. maybe you should get your facts right. He HELPED terminally ill patients end their suffering. In case you do not know what that is…people that there is NO hope for. They are going to die.
      Maybe you should get off the internet and read a book.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Garrett

    Kinda funny. For all the hype some people have against the government being too much in our lives.. These people are the first to applaud them for encarcarating someone who helped people by their own choice. Its their own lives, their own choice if they want to die rather then live a life with a debilitating
    disease. Same goes for abortion. Total hypocrisy

    June 3, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Libertarian

      And that's why I'm libertarian. I don't want the gov't encroaching on my life in any fashion. Amen.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mitsy

    While I hate to see people suffer from an illness, I still take the stand that "assisted suicide" is still "suicide". If you believe suicide is wrong, then you can't have it both ways. There are just too many meds out there that help with pain. I don't think helping someone die faster is something to be proud of. Just my opinion.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • HelpinDeath

      Personally, I would rather die than be hopped up on pain killers, supporting pharmaceutical companies. Jack helped many escape a terrible existence, and for that I am thankful for him.

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

      Who says it's always related to pain? Sometimes people are just left to live a miserable pointless existence (final stages of Alzheimer's for example). What is the point of that life? If that person wants to pass on I see no problem with that. And even if it is pain related what is the point of having to be all jacked up on pain meds for the rest of your life where you're not really living a 'normal' existence anyway?

      June 3, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      It is not unusual to have pain that cannot be controlled by drugs especially with certain kinds of cancer.
      I don't think making someone linger on in excrutiating pain is anything to be proud of either.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gfg

    i really cant understand how anyone would want to live forever, i think i could only handle 80-90 years of this place

    June 3, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. WHy

    the problems with DR K
    1. he was a pathologist, not a practicing doctor
    2. he didn;t know or care for the people he killed. he met them and killed them the same day
    3. he didn;t know the disease or medical history of the people. He killed one person who claimed she had a terminal illness but turned out to have "fibromyalgia"
    4. he did not kill people with "dignity" . he doped them and suffocated them with a trash bag
    5. he practiced medicine in states where he was not licensed
    6. he went to jail for murder people. he may have fooled you millions, but the 12 people who learned the facts put him away for life.
    7. he was a serial killer.

    It's one thing to be a compassionate advocate for death with dignity and painfree end of life. Many doctors are that way.

    He was a guy who went around killing people in a way that can only be considered murder.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Grundoon

      You are wrong, wrong, wrong!!!!!

      June 3, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • ratbag

      You know what I find amusing is that this apostle of assisted suicide suffered for many years from kidney disease and routinely checked himself into a hospital whenever he found his medical condition goin' south. For someone who advocated ending it all when your suffering becomes just too much, he seemed to cling to life quite tenaciously. I can't imagine that living with chronic kidney disease is any fun, yet this guy didn't feel the peaceful, painless and dignified death he gave others was for him. Makes you wonder...

      June 3, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • CT, NY

      WHy: Before posting comments about Dr. Kevorkian, perhaps you should get your facts straight. Every single bullet point you wrote is a lie. If you watched the videos along with this article, you would see that. Instead, you jump to conclusions and judgments.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Cathy W

      Ratbag, you missed Dr. K's point entirely – he advocated that someone be able to CHOOSE to die with dignity, if they wanted to die. Choosing NOT to die sooner is an equally valid choice.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Evolily

    the idea that we make terminally ill and catestropically disabled people suffer when they want to die is disgusting. If I am diagnosed with ALS I have the choice between committing suicide shortly after the diagnosis, when I likely have months or longer of a decent quality of life, or dying a long, extended death that involves loosing dignity and basically being locked into a body that doesn't work anymore.

    We have no issue euthenizing pets who are terminally ill, why would we have an issue assisting suicides or requested euthanasia of terminally ill people?

    June 3, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. blake

    Dr. Kevorkian now know what is on the other side of the grave where he sent so many. Annihilation - no. Reincarnation - no. Accountability - yes.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jose Gomez

    He was a heroic man who allowed willing suffering people a way to die with dignity. He fought and was persecuted for an honorable cause by a Judicial system that revolves around money. The people that are hooked onto machines to keep them technically alive are not being kept artificially alive for their own good but because hospitals are charging for every day they are hooked on them. Forcing suffering people to remain alive is hurting families economically and emotionally. It is draining the MediCare system.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  13. Hobbits

    What a hero! Jack, you will missed as yours was voice of reason in a world that cannot accept death.

    When my birth father lay in a hospital bed, severely burned in a farming accident, we turned off life support and 18 minutes later the end final came. When my grandfather died, he laid in a hospital for over a month as the cancer and fluid made it impossible to breath but we could do nothing but give him more meds to block the incredible pain. Two years ago my step-father found out he had cancer and died 59 days later. In February, my grandmother died of dementia (relatively speaking) after she could no longer eat or swallow. My regret for those that suffered was that we could not let the end come swiftly and painlessly. There last weeks on earth were a living hell of pain, confusion, and slow starvation. Perhaps in the days ahead, logic will prevail and we will recognize the rights of the dying. I only hope it comes before my time ends so I don't have to suffer the way others did.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. Barb Bell

    After losing several loved ones to cancer...I feel Dr. Kevorkian was a hero...Unless you have provided day to day care of a loved one suffering...You have no idea how many would have welcomed him with open arms...Bless his compassion...

    June 3, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. Darth Cheney

    I'm glad to see the majority of posts honor this man rather than denigrate his character. Kevorkian defines courage in doing what is both difficult and unpopular. He did so in a nation so insecure it condemns anyone who challenges the idea that God controls and must control everything, even in light of the obvious fact that none of us have even a whit of knowledge regarding God's purpose or even the existence of God.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
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