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. John in AZ

    He helped to end so many people's suffering...he was a good man. May he rest in peace!

    June 3, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Gerald

    No he was not a saint. He worked to ease the suffering of his terminally ill patients. If I were a doctor I would gladly follow in his footsteps.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. JJ

    The man IS a HERO... for taking-up such a contested cause and putting his own freedom on the line. FREEDOM is what it is all about...freedom to live your life as you decide, freedom from political tyranny, freedom from religous zeolots, freedom from banks, freedom from war mongers, freedom over you own body, privacy freedom, and freedom to die the way you choose.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. Katie

    He was needlessly jailed. He was helping people die with dignity. Do you want to die with a diaper on, having lost all control of your body? Choices, people should have choices when faced with death. They should not have to linger to the bitter end.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ditto

    RIP, doc. You served your purpose and brought comfort to those that were suffering.

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


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

      He was a murderer and I cringe just thinking of the reception he is getting on the other side right now, it must be like a horror movie

      June 3, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • iThoughtS0

      Do you hate much?
      Just what part of "prepared to depart" don't you understand?
      By any chance that you become terminally ill, and if you want yourself to suffer in great pain, while wiping out your and/or your families bank account(s)..? Even that is your choice.

      We are humans, not because we can just breath air and stay alive.
      We are humans, because we are capable of making most honorable choices.
      That includes way of death as well.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  6. gerfer

    I agree with a lot of posters who believe that Kevorkian made great arguments for a terminally ill patient's right to choose how he/she would to die. But the one thing he had going against him, from an image standpoint, was his obsession with death. Just take a look at his paintings – majorly creepy.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. chris

    Thank you, Dr. Kevorkian. You eased the pain and suffering of those in need of help.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  8. iThoughtS0

    Some pains are just unbearable, some illnesses will kill them in the end at a great financial, physical and emotional cost that he/she or his/her family simply can not afford. And this man showed them the most honorable and sensible way out.

    Nobody lives forever, that is the fact.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. worldbelow

    Thank you for that wonderful response, I'm going to post it again –

    Dr. Kevorkian was a man of courage, honety, and integrety/ Two qualities in very short supply in the United States Post 9/11. Because of his efforts to abide by his interpretation of his oath as a physitian by giving humans the same courtesy with dignity as is given to dogs and horses, there are assisted suicide laws in most states. All sates have assisted suicide, or assisted homicide, but we do it as a half-measure, and we do it with hiprocacy. They call it the "Morphme Drip" that little constant drip of Morpheme given top dying patients to alleviate pain which also supresses lung and heart function, thus giving the dying a little bit of a push out of this world. Dr. Kevorkian believed that when the patient is in unbearable pain, that he ought to be given the choice of a big "push" or a little push. A few days or weeks means little when you are hooked up to tubes, have said your good buys and are ready to begin your juorney into Samsara, or to meet Jesus, or to get on to that room with forty beds, each loaded with seven women, or simply to cease to exist at all. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, B.A., J.D., S.P.J.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jokester

    Why don't people on this board ever use the "Reply" link? (sigh)

    June 3, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • worldbelow

      to jokester – because IT DOESN'T WORK!!

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

      ha ha, ok in this case it did, but it usually doesn't

      June 3, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Freespirit

      I agree! I never know who the heck they are talking to. I am reading the postings and it seems like people are making this into a personal argument – but I don't know WHO WITH???!! I read down and there are about ten people mad at the same person, but I don't know who that person is without spending a bunch of time looking, which I don't have.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Mortamus

      Yes it does works just fine...........and yes I use it Jokester!

      June 3, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. Joseph

    Rest In Peace

    June 3, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. Freespirit

    Why is it that only two states out of 50 allow physician assisted suicide in this day and age? It's ridiculous. I would hate to think that if I found out I was terminal, that I would have to leave my family and friends and move to Oregon or Washington to be able to check out with dignity. And I would only be able to do it if I was going to live at least as long as whatever residency requirement they have. Politicians are scared to death of the issue because they know people's religious beliefs are so against it. Too sad for the rest of us that would like to have that option.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. Real Simple

    DO NO HARM. Need more even be said? Jack Kevorkian lost the right to legitimately be called a doctor long ago. I'm glad he is dead.

    Keep in mind Kevorkian didn't just want suicide for the terminally ill, he wanted it for anyone and everyone, no matter how healthy. Pneumonia and renal failure are a pretty painful way to die and yet at no point did Jack seek to end his OWN pain.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • guest

      Pneumonia and renal failure are not terminally ill diseases and are medically treated, rather successfully depending on patient age. And in no way, ever, did Dr. Kevorkian want "everyone to die no matter what illness." That is a baseless allegation.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • sammyjo

      Who has the right to tell me, or anyone else, whether they must continue living? The Government? Religious authority? You? How dare anyone impose that on anyone, no less a terminally ill patient. If I want to kill myself then that is my business, and my body, as long as I don't hurt anyone else in the process.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • guest

      One could suggest "do no harm" could mean not to treat. Sticking a needle into some one is harming them, should we not give shots? Surgery is painful, should we not resect tumors? Rehab therapy is painful and difficult...should we not help those recover? The "do no harm" is not an absolute, it's a metric by which medical professionals treat patients. Ironically, the point of medicine is to alleviate disease, sickness and pain. What you're suggesting, is that it is morally and ethically correct to allow some one to suffer in pain, rather than be treated by death.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Jess

      Is forcing someone in unbearable pain from a terminal illness to continue on until their body gives out "doing no harm"?

      June 3, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      "DO NO HARM" Kind of like all these doctors who are pushing drugs left and right to get kick backs from the pharmaceutical companies. Or the ones who financially drain the hell out of anyone who has decent health insurance. Then there are the ones that do unnecessary operations and procedures just to turn a buck. What about the ones who, no matter how much pain and suffering a patient is in, or how terminal there illness, they keep them pumped full of drugs, prolonging their suffering? That is harm!

      He was offering a service that a lot of people believe in and should be allowed to decide on. If you, or anyone else, don't believe or feel the same, probably due to religious beliefs, that's fine, no one was, or is, forcing you to be able to make that choice. In a free society a person should be able to make their OWN decisions regarding themselves, not hampered by someone elses religious beliefs.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. thnkfryrslf

    This man was way ahead of his time. I think he was a truely compassionate man, a human being in the best sense of the phrase. I think we are all a little better thanks to him.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jon

    Dr. Kevorkian was a hero for EVERYONE...even if they are too arrogant or dogmatic to understand it. Thank you Jack!

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