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. edward

    May he rest in peace and may God's love and mercy be his salvation.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  2. Texas

    Ugh that should be "40 plus in age"

    June 3, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. Darrell, Canada

    I am not spun up about what Jack did or didn't do, believe or not believe. What always worries me is the transition down a slippery slope. Who will ultimately determine the "quality" of a humans life. As we lookat Stephen hawhings, and the like, his life continues to add value to society and impacts our world. As we humans start determining the "quality" of life it will ultimately morph into the "value" of life and then the "cost" of keeping someone alive. Soon enough we will start euthanizing poeple based on societies criteria of life and who knows where that will lead. I am sorry, I just do not trust humanity to make the right choices ever!!! Anyone ever watch a movie called Logans run. Hmmmm.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Stoopid Iz Az Stoopid Duz

      Yes and no.... Not everyone has the resources that someone like Stephen Hawking does at his disposal. For most, its opting to choose a slow and painful death vs ending their physical and emotional suffering.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Stoopid Iz Az Stoopid Duz

      Not to mention, this is not a euthinizing by someone else's choice....these people came to him and chose to end their suffering.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Stoopid Iz Az Stoopid Duz

      And we already do make decisions about euthanizing people due to society's standards...Ever heard of the death penalty???

      June 3, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • ldean50

      Kevorkian didn't make the decisions – the patients did. What you are describing happens every day when Insurance Companies make the decision to withhold medical treatment – now THAT's murder.

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

      Each person gets to make the quality of life decision for themselves, To my knowledge Stephen Hawking does not feel the the cons outweight the pros with regards to quality of life, The argument really isn't about what defines quality life, but,
      about the right to make that decision for yourself.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • D

      In the US...the discussion about cost over quality has all ready been decided. Insurance companies and the medical establishment in the US ALWAYS make sure their greed is more important than your quality of life. This is why the US is in the upper 30's in terms of quality of care. Third world countries in South America and Africa have better quality care than the US will provide...because of greed.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Kari

    My father suffered from Lou Gehrigs Disease and chose to stop eating so his suffering would end quicker. I struggle with how I feel about assisted suicide but I do know one thing – that disease was something no one should have to suffer through. Rest in Peace Dr. Kevorkian~

    June 3, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. clarke

    As my Father told me," this place (nursing home) is just a holding area and we are all waiting to die." He also told, "it's just so hard, you just don't understand." Well today, I understand what he was saying. Andrew is right it steals your dignity and condemns you to and your loved one(s) to a hellish existence. Today, they have what is called comfort care. They give you drugs for pain that puts you in to another world and about 2 to 3 weeks you are gone to the other side. It is not as quick as Kevorkian, but it is the same thing under the law.

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

      good point. I hadn't thought about it. You're right.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. tkessler45

    I wonder if he assisted his own demise. 😉

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

      i think thats the first thought everybody had when they saw the headline

      June 3, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ronnie Lazarus

    I am a caretaker for elderly clients with Alzheimer's/Dementia. My own dear Mother died from complications from the former. How unfair it was to dub this brave man, who dared to go against the religious right and what some people thought of as the 'right thing', and to shed light on a topic that is so very difficult and necessary to look at. We all have the right to determine when 'enough is enough', especially in these scientific times, when people can be kept alive much longer than ever. I do hope there will be another brave soul to take up the 'cause' that Dr. Kevorkian felt so passionate about.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Dee G

      Agreed. Why is it not our right to make the decision, when the time comes, to end our own life? And why is it anyone else's business?

      June 3, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      Dee G-good post. What defines quality of life is something each adult, sane, person must-and should- be able to decide for themselves.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Humanity

      I completely agree with you Ronnie Lazarus. When my father with terminal stomach cancer opted for no more food, no more hydration, no more intervention except for pain-killers, he felt empowered just before lapsing into a peaceful death.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. wally cleaver

    Gee,I could of had a V8!

    June 3, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. NYCMovieFan

    Peace be with Dr. Kevorkian and condolences to his family. He was a pioneer and a hero in helping people with God-given free will to make a very important decision. The US healthcare system is obsessed with getting paid, and getting paid a lot, for increasingly poor "care." Dr. Kevorkian saw suffering and risked everything to help the dying relieve their suffering, he was a true physician. I am sure that flights of angels and the grateful patients that he helped have welcomed him to heaven. God Bless Him, a true American.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. radam82

    A true trailblazer who never stop believing in every individuals right to die!

    June 3, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  11. Stan Paul

    This is a man had the courage to stand up for the individual human right to live and die. Whatever religious leaders and politicians say, having seen patients with terminal illness who is to say what is right or wrong. It is all human judgement. If a person decides to take his/her life due to a terminal incurable illness, they should be able to. One day it will become legal for people to do so. If anyone gloats that he deserves to die, they should be fighting to make death penalty illegal. Death penalty is what I call barbaric and primitive not someone's right to take their own life. This man is a saint.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. Robin

    Jumpin-g-wilikers Batman!

    June 3, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. Trishgal80

    Rest in peace Dr. Kevorkian, you were a great man.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Suzy

    When my cat was old, and blind, and sick beyond cure, a veterinarian put him to sleep, letting him die and no longer suffer. I am appalled that after the work Dr. Kevorkian did, it is still illegal for me to hire a physician to help me in the same way. I hope the news of Dr. Kevorkian's death will inspire lawmakers to look at this again and improve the laws.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. wikiwachee

    I have seen my loved ones die of cancer. The soul leaves the body before your body shuts down. I know now that I would like to die quickly once I have said my goodbyes. There is magic at the end of life.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
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