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. North Carolina

    Whether you agree with the ethics of assisted suicide or not – he sacrificed a lot and brought the issue to light on the world stage. We can't progress as a society without individuals that are willing to dedicate their life to something that they feel is meaningful. You have to respect that.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Realistic85

    I find it funny how when we put a pet down when it's old and suffering we are being merciful. Try to put a human being down and all of a sudden you are a cruel monster. It's so much more merciful to leave the person in pain. Maybe lying in a bed for years attached to machines until their body gives out. Yeah, that makes all kinds of sense...

    June 3, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sincere

    He was compassionate to those who WANTED his assistance. He helped them in a way no one else way willing to and he did more for them and their pain then any other doctor or health care worker could. He didn't do it out of hate, he did it out of understanding. Go visit someone who is in so much pain and is ill and all they want is for their pain to go away, see if you'd like to live how they are forced to live. He cared, that's the bottom line.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Gayle

    RIP Dr. K. – you are a hero in my book! Thank you for all that you did (and suffered through) to bring the suffering of those dying of painful illness into the national spotlight.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    Whether you liked him or not, he was a pioneer.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Tina


      June 3, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • bill

      Sunjay was at a loss for words because the truth can not be contested, and he would loss his job and credibility if he publicly agreed with the Good Dr K.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. Not All Docs Play Golf

    If I ever find myself in a painful, hopeless situation where maximal pain management is no longer enough to meet my wishes, I sure don't want religious wackos who are NOT my family interefering with my choice. Heck, we're all much kinder to our dogs at the end of their lives.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. James

    83 years? What a slow and painful death. Someone should have assisted him a long time ago.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. Alex

    If people want to die, let them! Everyone has the right to live and die the way they see fit. What is not right is when these individuals think that other people have to die with them. Terminally ill individuals should not have to fight for what they deem best for them.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. dr b

    Typo....pulmonary thromboembolisms lodge in the pulmonary trunk, arteries or lungs not heart.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. Robin

    Ramblin Jehozophat Batman!

    June 3, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. Kathy

    Having watched my parents and my husband parents die a slow and painful death for years from cancer having the right to choose their path with diginity and respect is all Dr.K and my parents wanted. When their is no hope for a life worth living Dr.K was there for thoses in pain and a comfort to the families that got to be with their loved ones who left this world on their own terms..R.I P. Dr. K

    June 3, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. jesus

    God bless you Dr. Jack.
    thank you.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  13. ldean50

    Physician assisted suicide is currently legal in Oregon, Washington and Montana. It is also legal in several countries around the world.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. mrrealtime

    Evangelical Christianity is an embarrassment to humankind. I wish they would be raptured, but reality dictates we're stuck with them and their delusional behavior.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Eric


      June 3, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • ds

      And your outspoken behavior.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • DingoBerry

      I agree. Too bad they won't all go kill themselves.

      June 3, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jl

    2 issues here: the so called right to die vs law prohibiting assited suicide. Maybe the suffering and prolonging of life will
    lead to younger people valuing life more. Still, it's up to the state laws and courts to sort this all out.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
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