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. Doctor

    Kevorkian was a murderer and he should have been executed for it long ago.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • pointless1

      You're a d0uche bag... sadly I didn't need to repeat what you already know...

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

      He was most certainly a muderer, but I don't believe in execution. he is getting his payback now by horror movie like creatures on the other side.

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

      You want to talk about executing murderers, there are quite a lot of them roaming around. Anyone killing in the name of war is a murderer. The politicians initiating the wars are murderers. There's a big difference between what happened in WW2 when another country declared war on us, and ALL the political, economic conflicts ever since, starting with Korea.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. pointless1

    Dr. K... You have given respect and dignity to those who felt they were losing it at a time when no others would listen to them. May you rest in peace and thank you for being one of the very few who tried to give people some dignity in death.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mother

    Kevorkian killed my daughter! She wasn't even terminally ill! She may have been on dialysis but she was near the top of the donor list! Die you monster!

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

      Sure he did. Too bad you didn't get the family plan.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. Double Standard

    So, one of his three missions was that he was not ready to die, eh? Afraid of death? Afraid of what will happen afterward? Why the fear? With what he advocated, "Dr. Death" should have welcomed it courageously as a champion for it!

    June 3, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  5. Be Quiet

    RIP Jack. You were a true American hero.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • joe

      aww, so sad to hear of this "purposeful physicians' passing....I wonder if he euthanized himmself?

      June 3, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  6. Doctor

    We are supposed to show compassion for the death or a murderer? Kevorkian gave doctors a bad name. We took an oath to do no harm. Real Doctors everywhere are for the first time in their lives celebrating someones death. Thank goodness this wretched person is gone!

    June 3, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • AP

      Godd i hope you are not a doctor.. you are ridiculous..

      June 3, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • no

      look forward to when you are gone, jerk

      June 3, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • W2m

      Friend, I dont know what kind of medicine you practice, but every other provider I have worked with has at some time intentionally assisted in the death of a patient. for formally, not with an IV contraption, but from a sense of compassion and patient care. Jack was way before his time, and he made it a bit difficult for other physicians to be supportive of end of life decisions that included hastening death, but he doesnt deserve your 'better-than-thou' yammering

      June 3, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      You have no clue to what you are talking about. Do some research and not just listen to the bible thumpers on issues. Jack didn't just go around offing people, he helped those who where terminally ill and suffering. Who are you to say those people don't have a right to a peaceful death. How about you make your choice in that situation and leave everyone else to do theirs. You know freedom of choice!

      June 3, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Rico

      I thought you took an oath to relieve pain from suffering patients? It looks like you took an oath to make sure that YOU look good at what you do, you selfish pr!ck!

      June 3, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Dr. Kevorkian gave doctors a bad name? Hahahahaha! If you knew anything about medical history you would rethink that statement.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Gary S

      You must be kidding right? If not then you are one those doctors who gains invaluable income keeping patients alive. I commend Kevorkian for understanding that the DNR order and other means should be available to us in the event that our time has come.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • susie

      its difficult decision, but Dr. death is right about helping suffering patients. save life sounds good, but is it always? its really hard to just watch my patients suffer from pain that can not be cured/alleviated, that is when we the doctors feel really helpless and powerless not being able to help patients. u don't seem to understand.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Sandra

      Tim, you have no clue what you are talking about. Stop mindlessly swallowing right to die rhetoric and do a little research. You would have to be living under a rock to not know know that most of Kevorkian's victims were not even terminally ill. Many were depressed and many had medical problems but they were not incurable or dying any more than we are all dying. Kevorkian hurt disabled people and he and his supporters should be ashamed of themselves. Ignorance is no excuse-do the research dude!

      June 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly99

      Susie. It must be hard not to know how to help your patients. Killing them however is not a reasonable solution to solving your frustrations. Sadly, too many doctors are doing just that. If they can't cure us they feel justified in killing us. It's good to know there are still some doctors around who don't want to take their frustrations out on helpless patients.

      June 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Orv Pibbs

    R.I.P Doc. It is so unfortunate the USA is so uncaring and unfeeling about our terminally ill people, that must endure incredibly suffering, and not be allowed to make their own decisions, in such a personal matter of their own death. Makes we wonder if the insurance companies that charge $ 12 / aspiring that have something to do with this. I lost both of my parents when I was very young from terminal illness, and I for one, would not want to go in that way, dying with such little dignity. In America, we treat our terminally ill pets better than we treat human beings. The States could learn a lot from the Netherlands in this respect.
    "When the Day is Done, Hope so much your race wil be all Run" – Nick Drake 1948-1974

    June 3, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. luke

    If he was struggling with kidney problems for tears –
    why didn't he just kill himself like he 'helped' so many other people do? –
    I guess he was a do as I say, not as I do type of guy –
    or maybe he was just a gutless coward who got off on watching Other people die.
    Either way he will not be missed.

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

      nope. Youre wrong. I miss him. He was good.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Not the Point

      I think you're missing his point. As far as I understand it, he was not advocating for just any person with a chronic medical condition or terminal illness commit suicide, rather that they have the choice and control to decide when their suffering is enough and put an end to it.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • sanjosemike

      Luke, I think you missed the point. Kidney disease and pneumonia are NOT painful. Dying from kidney failure is completely painless, as is dying from pneumonia. A pulmonary embolus can occur when a patient is unconscious and also is painless.

      However, terminal cancer is not. Often the cancer spreads to the spine where the pain is unbearable. You and I simply cannot imagine that level of pain.

      In entertainment media, death is often presented "with dignity." That is NOT the real reality. The real reality is that death can be horrible in every way. As you get older, you will see more of this and will grow to understand. Right now you have a "sterilized" view of death. I assure you, it is often anything but "dignified."


      June 3, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Luke- Did you ever think that perhaps his drive to change the laws on something that he (and many) feel should be a legit service was important enough to him to want to be around as long as possible to continue that goal. Its called a passion for something, even if you don't agree with him you must now what a passion is.....if not I suggest you get one.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      "you must now..." meant to write "you must know"

      June 3, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Orv Pibbs

      The way he died was his choice to make. He didn't make those choices for others. Just assisted people with what the Government could not. Their should be more doctors out there, that have the guts Kevorkian had.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Perhaps he didn't kill himself because he didn't feel like he was ready yet. What he offered was a choice. It is the most selfish thing in the world to force somebody else to suffer when they would rather not. If a patient is terminal, an end is iminent. You can either let them go on their own terms, with some dignity, when they want to, or you can force them to deteriorate into a slim shadow of their former selves, feeling immense pain along the way. Which one of those sounds more humane? The answer seems pretty obvious to me.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Colin

      You misunderstand his message Luke. The idea behind Dr.K's method is that when no other options remain, and when treatment or pain management are no longer working, then assisted-suicied should be available at the patients request. You should try to learn a little bit about the subject before you make sweeping statements that are as indicting as they are mislead. A good first step would be to watch the movie "You Don't Know Jack".

      June 3, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave O

      Each and every patient who sought Dr. Kevorkians assistance made an informed and purposeful decision. By what moral authority do you claim to know what is best for me on my death bed? The decision these people made was intensely personal and to the extent that the Government and religious cranks involved themselves is the surest sign that Jack was absolutely right about the tenuous nature of our liberties.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Scorpio

      Suffering kidney problems is not in itself a terminally illness problem. Many thousands live with kidney problems with medication, on kidney dialysis machines or kidney transplants. The doctor helped those who were dying a slow extremely painful and debilitating disease; those patients who had been suffering for years, who were diagnosed by many doctors that their disease was incurable and those around them (family and/or friends) watch in absolute horror as they saw their loved one wither away in pain to suffer an extremely painful end. Why? No reason except those like you who do not grasp the concept or have never seen someone suffering so much.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • grundik

      Luke, you are totally missing the point. First of all he was helping people that were READY to die. He was not promoting knocking off people just because they were terminally ill. Second, "kidney problems" does not equal terminally ill. Third, standing up for a certain right doesn't mean one has to necessarily exercise that right. Supporting gun rights, does not mean I will go out and buy a gun.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Kelly99

      Louis did you ever stop to think that most all mass murderes have a passion. A passion for killing those that they don't see as worthy of living. Kevorkian had much in common with Hitler.

      June 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gabby22

      Right you are Luke. The Jackster won't be missed and particularly not by disabled people who need help living more we need help dying. Kevork's charity is something we can live without.

      June 3, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeremy

    Kevorkian supported assisted suicide for patients that weren't ill as well! Of course any psychiatrist would say that any such patient is indeed very ill!

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

      I disagree. Please list specifics when making that charge. My understanding is that Kevorkian was very, very careful in "selecting" patients and that many were furious at him for him not selecting them. Those included patients who were suffering from depression. Kevorkian, to my knowledge, never took part in an assisted death in any of those patients, who only had depression.

      Of course if you are in the final stages of ALS, you will also be depressed. And you will suffer horribly from this, as well as your family. Maybe you're confusing those issues...


      June 3, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. Barry

    Jack Kevorkian was a hero. May the people that prosecuted him rot in hell.

    I am a healthy late middle age male and hope to remain that way for a long time. However, if something occurs to put the quality of my life in the toilet, I certainly intend to seriously consider suicide. Unfortunately, my only quick and humane method will be the very sloppy gun to the temple method. It would certainly be nice, for those that will have to deal with the gross mess, if there was a much more dignified and cleaner method. Rest in peace Dr. Kevorkian.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. Freedoms

    Every case is different and what often happens on these comment strings is that people try to apply a possible outcome to too many situations. Assisted suicide is valid, but only through a process that validates the case, without bias, through a commitee of specialists, etc. Exhaust all other options, then reach a consensus with the patient. Yeah, the patient would have to make the final call . . . no one else! Dr. Kevorkian understood and respected that above all else.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. Gerald

    Just because you guys saw "You don't know Jack" where Kevorkian was painted with saintly light and his murderous nature was ignored doesn't mean you should be calling him a hero or someone to be respected. Wake up, it's hollywood. Hollywood is very liberal and assisted suicide is supported by the liberal agenda so of course they made him out to be a sympathetic guy that just wanted to end suffering. The reality is that Kevorkian was a murderer and should have never been a doctor. What ever happened to do no harm?

    June 3, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave O

      In your world does a person ever possess the right to privacy and self volition, or do they simply forfeit when they grow sick? By what moral authority do you claim to know what is right for me? Your religious indoctrination? Haven't you heard, God is dead.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. Scorpio

    It is most unfortunate that we can talk about any subject except death. It seems to me that religious people believe that G_d will save those that are terminally ill and are absolutely against any form of assisted death just as they are against abortion. Why should some stranger or the government who does not know me at all have the right to tell me if I should not abort an unwanted fetus or that I should not make my own decision to end my life if I am suffering an incurable and debilitating disease or illness. The world's population is expanding so quickly that we will, one day, have committees who will decide who shall be allowed to have a child and how many. It has already partially happened in China. We think that people should live forever. I prefer to live an active wholesome life with dignity and decide when and where to die if I develop a disease or illness that should render no hope and put me in terrible pain and have my friends and family see me that way.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. Hideously Bad

    The truly horrible part about this man is that, as this story revealed, he believed that one did not have to be terminally ill in order to be able to end their life! Can you believe that?!! How monstrous! What law of the land would allow and sanction that kind of monstrosity! What was the matter with this man! It doesn't get any worst than that.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  15. Paul Atlanta, GA

    As a nurse, I have seen the pain of many patients, and the families that cry along with their dying loved ones, because of the agony in just doing basic simple care to them may cause. If someone wants to purposely end the suffering at the end of life or after losing a battle against a debilitating disease. Then who I am to stop them? Why should I prolong suffering? Many doctors turn to the option of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), so that when the time comes that are about to die they can, with dignity and respect. I do not condone assisted suicide, but I do respect my patients that if a time comes in GA that it is legal their right to use it.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • sanjosemike

      Paul, as a nurse, you have a much clearer understanding of death, because you have seen it so many times. Many people who write here are young and inexperienced in life. They may come from a religious background that is strongly against assisted suicide. I would categorize many of them as naive.

      These people need to speak with nurses who do terminal care. They will tell you the truth about death. It is not pretty (despite the entertainment media's representations). It can be horribly painful, beyond belief. It is not dignified. The families see this terrible suffering too, and it affects them to their own last days.

      Keep up your good work. I hope a professional like you works with me in my final days.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
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