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. Linda in Cali

    Sad to read this news. The man was so brave and compassionate.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. ldean50

    I wish Kevorkian had been around when my terminally ill grandfather was forced to use a gun to blow the top of his head off. Kevorkian didn't "decide" who lives and who dies – the patient decided. He didn't play god – if anybody did, it was the patient. Kevorkian didn't commit murder. If you have a gun in your house and someone uses it to kill themselves, does that mean you are guilty of murder? Suicide, right or wrong, is between that person and their god. The god I worship met my grandfather with arms opened. I wish he could have died in a peaceful way and with someone like Dr. Kevorkian beside him instead of alone and so violently. Bless you Dr. Kevorkian for your compassion and non-judgement.

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

      So tragic. I'm sorry your grandfather was in such a bad way. The same story with my uncle. Thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story, but it's events like this that we need to keep bringing to light so that we can bring compassion and rational thought to the forefront and ease suffering more compassionately and humanely.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. WHy

    Headline should read
    "Americas worst serial killer dead."

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

      But it doesn't....so that means you lose. Sorry.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • ice breaker

      This is an article about Dr. K. Not about Crusaders.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. w.s.

    I have to give him this. He was brave. He spoke out about something most people in society don't agree with and don't want to deal with. He dealt with the controversies of suicide and whether or not people have the right to choose their own time. He saw suffering and had the compassion to put helping people end their suffering ahead of the majority opinion. I feel people do have the right to decide when their own suffering should be over; especially when nothing else can be done to help them. It is not a popular and condoned position to be in but I think this man was brave to help these people that others could or would not. I am not saying he did not do it for other more selfish reasons as well. Money perhaps. But in the end he ended the suffering of these people when nothing else could. That means something.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jon from Canada

    Ironic he died of natural causes. I wonder what it's like to have played God in your life, then have to answer a few questions after death.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Stoopid Iz Az Stoopid Duz

      He didn't really "play God" as so many people say. He did what very sick people asked him to do. Not saying it is right or ethical, but ultimately the decision wasn't his to make. He was doing what people paid him to do.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • ldean50

      No one paid him. He didn't receive anything for what he did to help people.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      You are making an assumption that there is a 'hereafter'. Not all people believe that, religious or not. Some of us believe that there is no afterlife; that your reward for living a 'good' life is just that, 'living a good life'.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      So he's just sitting up on a bunch of clouds answering questions? Are you mentally handicapped?

      June 3, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Kevin Smith

      But he didn't play God. He didn't kill anyone, he just showed those WHO wanted to end their own life, HOW to do it.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • john kesrouan

      In North America, we can kill a unborn baby, few questions asked. And we euthanize pets who are terminally ill. But oh no people (we are also a animal species), are forced to suffer often for years and decade. What happened to choice and what happened to it's a free country. If you want to end your life that should be your right and your choice. But thanks to prominent lobbying by the Catholic church and the like, it's illegal. It's supposed to be my body and I should have a right what I want to do with it.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • danial54

      You obviously have know idea what you are talking about...so please shut up. This man was a pioneer.

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

      Don't be silly. Death is the end, and nobody answers questions after they have gone.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Stoopid Iz Az Stoopid Duz

      My bad, @Idean50....paid or not, these people came to him....that was really the point of waht i was saying... Thanks for clarifying.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Charleen

      People play God all the time Jon; those who drive drunk, those who talk and text on their cells while driving, these people could kill others at any time....so what 's the difference?

      June 3, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Realistic85

      Who exactly does he have to answer any quesitions to after death?

      June 3, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • @jon from canada

      your question would be coherent if there was a god to answer to, but there isn't. like steven hawking says, people are afraid of the dark. kevorkian doesn't exist anymore and neither will you soon enough. sleep on that.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • AFD

      Playing God is keeping someone alive on all kinds of equipment because you don't think they should die.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • harleydavidson

      Playing God means the person is making a decision as to who lives and who dies, who suffers and who doesn't. People begged Kervodian to help them end their own lives. Kervokian did not decide who gets to live and who gets to die. Please get your story straight.

      Granted, Kervokian got carried away with his last undertaking. He actually pulled the trigger, but still he did so at the request of the patient. It was a stupid thing to do, especially when the Supreme Court had already given him a de-facto "acceptance" of his practice. But he was not happy with the "acceptance." He wanted an full "sanction" by the Supreme Court. He was not happy with the half a loaf, he wanted the whole loaf, and ended up with zero.

      You better pray to God that you do not ever have to suffer what some people have and are going through...because if you did, there is a great chance you would also pray for death...and God help you then because you thought the concept of one asking to end his own life to end the suffering is crazy.

      And if you would not end your life no matter how bad it gets, then kudos to you, it's your decision. But if you want others to suffers because of your ideologue, then have you ever thought, perhapas you are the one playing God?

      June 3, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. sbp

    I don't disagree with assisted suicide in certain extreme cases. But don't think Kevorkian was acting as a humanitarian for terminally ill patients. He was obsessed with death. This was a fetish for him. Years back they did a 60 Minutes on him, and he's wacko about death. He believed in assisted suicides for anyone who wanted it.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • ldean50

      and where did you do your clinical work for your degree in psychiatry? Devries?

      June 3, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Gayle

      What, exactly, is wrong with assisted suicide for anyone who wants it? Who are you, or anyone, to judge the quality of life for someone else? Have YOU had to deal with an extremely painful or debilitating illness or injury? Everyone is different, and everyone deals with pain and loss differently. There is no reason why the state should force people to stay alive when they do not wish to; it is cruel and unnecessary. Especially when we are withholding funds to assist those who actually DO want to live and cannot afford the proper medical treatment.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      I think anyone that is terminally ill should be able to have the assisted suicide option. Dr Kervorkian was humanitarian who was ahead of his time. We don't treat terminally ill DOGS like we do terminally ill people. At least dogs can get a shot when they are suffering so much and no hope for recovery.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      That's not true. He turned down 95-97% of the people that approached him.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  7. Nitrous

    A real American hero.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. Scott

    Dr. Kevorkian should be applauded for his efforts. His approach will some day be understood and accepted.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    Sounds like he passed quickly, and didn't suffer much. Good. That's all he wanted for anyone.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Johnny 5

      Well said Chris.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Well put. We're humane with cats and dogs than we are with human beings.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. tammy potter

    Im not a christian but I do hope this man has a life hereafter to HELP the pain of ANYONE! a HERO in my book!

    June 3, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. broker200

    For those of you who are uninformed about good ole Jack, please understand he is not normal. Anyone who has seen this guys sick art can tell you that he is messed up and has always been obsessed with death and the macabre. This was a way for him to be there at the moment of death. Compassion for the patient was irrelevant to him. Take a look.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Jimbo Coles

      Perhaps you should read the captions and understand the meaning behind those works. They are generally anti-war and against organized religion.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • ldean50

      The decapitated abstract is labeled "war" . . .I think it is appropriate and not sick . . .. a man against a red background, called 'fever' . . . appropriate again in my opinion. a man falling into a black abyss trying to hold on, called god. When we turn our backs on compassion and love – aren't we throwing god into an abyss? In my opinion, his art was nothing more than a reflection of what humanity has evolved into... if you call it sick, then that is what we have all become.

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

      he wasn't there at the time of death; he'd set up the gizmo and leave so they could off themselves. educate yourself and learn to use tinyurl while you're at it.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. Scott

    Prolonging the suffering of those who know they will never get better and will live in pain without hope is just wrong-headed and misguided. They deserve the right to choose. I know I would. RIP, Dr. Kevorkian.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  13. Me

    We put terminal animals to sleep - the same should be allowed for people– nobody should have to suffer and be in extreme pain - He was a compassionate man who helped those in dire need– may he rest in peace...

    June 3, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. ldean50

    How is what Kevorkian did any different from a family making a decision to disconnect life support? Do we label them as murderers too? trying to play god?

    June 3, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Stoopid Iz Az Stoopid Duz

      Well said.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Scott

    This article also does not mention that Dr. Kevorkian beat Michigan prosecutors four times in court when Michigan juries decided that he was not guilty of any crime. He pushed his luck in the end and the prosecutors finally got their conviction.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
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