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. Just Me

    I'm 72 and a healthy man who does the gym 5 days per week for at least 1 & 1/2 hours.
    My mind and body are still high function.
    I always supported what this courageous man was doing FOR those who were made to suffer only for the profits of the leeches.
    If there comes a time when I have to do this, I will see to it that I am NOT interfered with by the profiteers and religiomatics.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      I hope you are not insinuating that ANYONE in the medical profession looks at end-of-life care as a profit opportunity. Most doctors FAVOR death with dignity, and we want the religious zealots out of the patient's decision-making. So I'm not sure who you are labeling as leeches and profiteers.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. Eric

    Sad day for sure. This guy needs to be looked at as a pioneer. We give dogs more rights when they are dying than our own species. Truly sad to see him and his ethical philosophy die.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. Robin

    HOLY FRIJOLES!

    June 3, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. ardie allen

    It is all good and God is at the end...he will discover.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. Robin

    Hey batman! it's puff puff pass.....

    June 3, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. May

    Even in his dying stages, he knew better for himself. He still lived with hope, otherwise he would not have checked into the hospital in May.

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

      Because he was not terminally ill you idiot. He fought for the rights of those who had no hope of living life without the pains of cancer and various other fatal diseases. He did not welcome anyone to come and die. Watch the HBO movie 'You Don't Know Jack' and actually find out what he fought for before you say something.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Scorpio

      He checked into the hospital for pneumonia and a kidney-related problem. Those problems, most times, can be corrected with medications and up to a kidney transplant or dialysis. He was assisting terminally ill people dying from diseases with no known cure, and those patients were suffering horrible pain. Not the same at all.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      James & Scorpio, I do agree with you but you are wasting your time explaining that to an idiot.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. concerned

    We do NOT have the right to take our own life. As long as you are still alive there is ALWAYs hope.

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

      You've clearly never been beside someone who's been sick and in pain for their final days.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Mythoughts

      I disagree. This body is MINE. If we have the right to put down an animal to end its suffering you better bet I have the right to end my life if I am suffering with no hope. You can hold on the hope all you want till your last breathe but as for me, if my doctor says you have alzheimer's or something even worse. Then I am not goign to sit then and become a shell of who I was and expect others to whip my butt and put food in my mouth while i have no idea who I am or who they are. That is not living, that is exsiting.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • CrackedPepper86

      That is not your decision to make.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • EternalInfidel

      Sounds like a member of the Jesus cult.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Toutry

      In Switzerland, thankfully, we do have that right. Look up Dignitas.... We have followed the efforts of Dr. Kevorkian closely over the years and he is a pioneer for patients' rights. I hope he has many successors to continue to carry the flame.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • sammy sozo

      You're an idiot. My mother just turned 92 and lies stationary in bed every single day, her body getting weaker and failing more with each passing week. There is no hope. Stop generalizing. Each case is different. The doctor served a purpose.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Annatala Wolf

      In response to "there's always hope": Hope for what? Nobody lives forever. It's not a question of whether or not someone will die. It's a question of when, how, and why. If a 20 year-old is suffering with depression, there is hope, the condition is treatable and temporary, and suicide should not be a legally condoned option. But if an 85 year old woman is suffering in constant nerve pain that doctors can't treat, suggesting she should "hold out hope" is simply malevolent.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • really?

      So you believe that we shouldnt have the right to decide where to live, where to work, who to be friends with, how to dress? not to far of a stretch following your logic. you want personal liberties then we DO HAVE the right to choose whether to end our suffering. juts because you dont believe in it doesnt give you the right to tell someone else what to do with their own lives. who made you God? idiot

      June 3, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Inverse137

      @Concerned.

      I can tel 2 things about you:
      1) you are young.
      2) you've never seen a person who is terminal and in AGONY.

      No, as long as you are alive there is not always hope. There can be pain where you are begging for someone to help you make the pain stop.

      Don't be naive.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Scorpio

      On the contrary, we should have the right to forge our own destiny and that should include our own decision to take our own life. You or the state should not have the right to tell me if I should live as a vegetable and in horrible pain. These people who the doctor helped had been suffering for years with no hope, getting worse medically, and knowing that in the end, they would not be able to feed themselves, bathe themselves, etc. You are a puritan of the worst kind.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Nightengale 79

      You obviously have never had to live with one or more illness, that sucks the life out of you. Makes you wonder how much more you can take. Don't ever take your good health for granted. There are times when there is no more hope, just pain, pain, and did I mention pain. You can learn to adpat, be flexible, adaptable, but that does not lessen your desire to have it all over with. Each day I struggle to find a reason to continue on, and so far, I've been fortunate.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jess

      The definition of a terminal illness is that there is no hope for recovery. There is a very good film on cable right now about the law in Oregon and Washington-try watching it. Whether you agree with physician assisted death or not, it gives a very moving insight into the decision process of several people that choose this option.
      When it comes to hope, you can only speak for yourself.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      I wonder if your opinion would change if you were faced with certain death preceded by bone-wracking pain for the next 6 weeks that the morphine can no longer alleviate...and that they won't treat with heroin because that "sends the wrong message".

      June 3, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • MissouriMan

      I appreciate what you are saying about there always being hope, however, that does not give you the right to make that decision for someone else. It is a very personal decision for the one involved, not the worlds. That is one of the problems with our country, everyone wants to live everyone elses lives as THEY think it should be lived.

      Live yours.You decide what is best for you and let others do the same.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Derp

    RIP Dr. Kevorkian. You did the right thing. ANyone who says otherwise is a complete idiot or a religious whack job. If I was fighting a losing battle against a terminal illness I'd want my pain taken away too, not to mention my family who would have to see me like that. The man is a hero and I wish there were more like him. Kudos.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      Well said, people should have more control.....not an insurance company or the legal system sucking families dry.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. Matt

    Rest in peace, you magnificent man. You helped people ease out of this world in no pain.
    What he did should be completely legal. I'd rather get just an extra shot of painkiller than die screaming from cancer.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Matt I couldn't agree more. I was always hoping Dr. K would be around for my Plan B in case I needed it. He helped people die with dignity and they all invited him into their lives...he was never forced to do anything that the patient didn't want to happen. RIP Dr. K.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. PhilG.

    "It was peaceful,he did'nt feel a thing." .... says Morganroth,removing the pillow.

    June 3, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. George

    I met Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the early 1980's as a medical student during a pathology rotation in a hospital in Southern California. He was a compassionate physician who genuinely took an interest in teaching me in the short time that I spent with him. His ideas were controversial even then, and he was an outspoken advocate for what he thought was right, and I respect him for his views whether I agreed with him or not. He brought to the fore a subject that has been inadequately addressed by the mainstream medical community.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  12. James

    "Well, let's take what people think is a dignified death. Christ was that a dignified death? Do you think it's dignified to hang from wood with nails through your hands and feet bleeding, hang for three or four days slowly dying, with people jabbing spears into your side, and people jeering you? Do you think that's dignified? Not by a long shot. Had Christ died in my van with people around Him who loved Him, the way it was, it would be far more dignified. In my rusty van." ~Dr. Jack Kevorkian

    June 3, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  13. N

    WOW. Ok so now we don't only get to decide who gets to be born (abortion), but we also wanna get to decide how and when we die(euthanasia)!!!Seriously people?....are we trying to play God or what?...

    June 3, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      We are god... and Santa Claus and the tooth fairy... grow-up and look at the facts.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • jay

      We're not trying to play God – just trying to exert some control over the decisions in our own lives. How about you feel free to live your life based on your worldview, and you let others do the same based on theirs.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Anyone who says they should be able to have their life taken away if they decide so, is just sad.
      They have no faith and no strength whatsoever to fight it out. My friend who has been in sick for 3 years now has been suffering with cancer as it is only getting worse... she is there strong and fighting it. Sometimes I think, "i wish God can just take her now so that she doesn't suffer anymore" but that's not our decision, it's God's. What if she decides to take her life next week...? What if she was going to get better that same week, but she decided to take her life? He put us here on this earth complete his will... and just as he put us here, he will take us out. We are not here for ourselves and our pleasure. We are here to serve him. We dont know what is to come for us, we dont know our future. Anything is possible for God, ANYTHING.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. JeramieH

    Blood clot to the heart causes a heart attack... unless he was already comatose, that's hardly a "peaceful, didn't feel a thing" way to go.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  15. Yarah

    I believe he got a "Kick" or a "Rush" helping people to die. And then watched them as they did it!! Have a nice trip Jack.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
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