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. Mare0568

    I'm not going to sit here all day and debate this but I'm going to tell you - unless you've been by someone and watched them die and suffer - or live a life full of pain and suffering and have seen their limbs slowly amputated (diabetes), etc. - you have no right to judge. Your body, your life. It should be each individual's choice on how and when they want to die, if they don't die from natural causes. Come live in the Northeast and see how many people we all seem to watch daily, suffer and die from cancer - that includes children. Who the hell are we to dictate to other people? By all means, yes, "guilt" them in to sticking it out but it's for your own selfish reasons. You aren't doing the dying any favors. There should be more Dr. Kevorkian's and it should be an option for all individuals. We are kind enough to euthanize our beloved pets so that they don't continue to suffer but we'll keep making our beloved humans waste away to nothing and suffer in agony. I just don't understand that.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Doctor

    What? You hope that I'M not a Doctor? You've got one screwed up mind. We took an oath to do no harm. The end. Kevorkian betrayed that oath and I do not. I'm an E.R. doctor and I FIGHT death every single day. Kevorkian was the worst thing to happen to Doctors since Josef Mengele!

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

      I too am a physician. I took that oath as well. I have never done an assisted suicide. But I have prescribed pain medication sufficient for treatment of pain. I hope you do, if you are still practicing. We both know that DEA can be very hard on physicians who "over-prescribe" narcotics during terminal care. I wonder how those DEA officials will feel during their final days? Don't you wonder too?

      June 3, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave O

      Ignorant dross. Damn your narrow reading of an oath. Do you really suppose that Hippocrates envisioned a day when medicine would be used to keep people alive in an indefinate twilight zone of suffering? Does it not register in some remote part of your mind that perhaps using medicine to prolong suffering is the greater harm?

      June 3, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. lobbyistgrl

    Americans scream about their rights to free speech, their civil rights, their rights to own a gun, and if we are allowed to have all of those things, then we have the right to want to die. This man did nothing wrong.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tammy

    I could see both sides of the coin . We euthisnize our pets when they are suffering and it's legal, but when a prfessional doctor is ask by their patient that they be put out of their misery it's illegal. We call the Physican playing God, well what in the h e l l is the Vet doing?

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

      Tammy, most pets are euthanized because their medical treatment is not affordable to their owners. And yes, sadly this is legal at this time.

      June 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Psycho

    Kevorkian wasn't compassionate he was in love with death. He didn't murder people out of compassion he did it because he got off on it. Don't believe the movie hype.

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

      That's idiotic- you didnt know him.

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

      The point is, to each his own. You're right is being taken out of you're hand, and that right is how to end the pain in your life. Turn it around and if he was fighting for your healthy life you wouldn't be screaming so loud. Try finding a politician who is so blatantly honest, and not afraid to speak of what he believes in.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      My clinical rotation was on a geriatric oncology ward. Every person there was aged and terminal with cancer.
      Some were on the highest amount of pain relievers that could be given, semi-conscious and moaning constantly in pain.
      Kevorkian offered that which the amoral majority and even yourself deny your fellow human. Some small dignity and relief from intractable pain, a mercy given to animals, but denied our fellows.
      May you pass as that one patient that impacted me the most, with a pressure ulcer in his hip that extended down to the bone, large enough to literally drop a softball into, riddled with cancer and weighing 93 pounds, in constant pain, in spite of a continous drip of morphine. May you enjoy that fate.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. Juan Carlos

    Why do people feel it's their right to prevent someone from ending their lives? Talk about a victimless crime. If I'm inevitably dying and suffering, how is it anyone else's right to prevent me from ending my suffering? If you think I'm going to go to hell as a result of my action, well, hey, that's my problem. Leave me alone!

    This is a pretty basic concept and all Jack ever did was help those who wanted to but couldn't do that. This society has some pretty misguided concepts, and this whole "assisted suicide is wrong" is certainly one of them. 100 years from now I think history will not only look back kindly on him, but will wonder where everyone's heads were at when prosecuting someone who simply believed in and tried to help, suffering people.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. Doctor

    A real doctor treats the patients pain and does his or her best to comfort them. We do not take lives, we try to save them. Kevorkian was the opposite of a Doctor. He was a murderer.

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

      what if the pain is untreatable

      June 3, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      Spoken like someone with their hand in the drug business. Sorry "doctor" but after having family members who were suffer
      ing in the final days, begging to die from the pain and crying every minute of the day...i firmly believe what this DOCTOR did was the right thing to do. Who the HELL ARE YOU to judge someone who is in intense pain with zero chance for survival. I hope you are not a real doctor, you make me sick.

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

      Not, true. As we are able to keep people alive longer and longer by artificial means, a big part of my job is helping families with end of life care. Keeping people alive is often cruel and excruciating. If you do not see this every day at your work I doubt you are really a doctor.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Doctor too

      A real doctor doesn't want their patients to suffer needlessly. It would be more compassionate and even more humane in many many cases to put someone to "sleep" rather than be selfish and extend their lives while they live in misery for the simple reason that we "dont want to let them go yet" so instead of doing the humane thing, the right thing, we make our loved ones endure an extra couple of days, weeks, months with no quality of life. and many of you call this man heartless and cruel, how ironic.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Exactly. If nothing can be done, which is usually where he comes in, these people are to lay there in mortal agony because YOU don't want them die? And he's selfish and evil? Have you seen the people he's helped? The conditions where horrible, I would have helped, and I would have wanted help if I were ever in such a case.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      With that extraordinarily simple statement I am positive you are not a doctor.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Hospitalist

      This is no doctor... just some religious conservative lying to make their point. Figures.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      If that is the best that medical science can offer terminal patients in intractable pain, perhaps those who wish to end that pain should strap on explosives and send a message to the political and medical leadership of this fascist land.
      We'll put down animals that are in pain, but we torture our fellow man.
      So, perhaps the terminal should take a page from our nation's enemies playbook.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  8. Aquidneck

    Years ago, an article in Newsweek quoted people who worked with him before he became interested in assisted suicide. Evidently he asked co-workers to notify him when patients were close to death so that he could "look into their eyes as they died."

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

      And people love making a mountain out of a mole hill too...or beefing up a story with scary ideologies to make the man more of a monster...

      June 3, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Right.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      That is a lie, there was never any such article. It is a lie spread by the Christian Taliban and repeated often. Taking a page from Hitler's play book, "Tell a lie, make it big, repeat it often and people will believe you".
      You and your ilk should be treated the same way that we treat the Taliban in Afghanistan, since you want the same thing that they do, religious dominance of our government.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Aquidneck

      Here's the link. This hasn't anything to do with religion. The guy had mental health issues and obssessed with death.

      http://www.newsweek.com/1993/12/05/the-real-jack-kevorkian.html

      June 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. r4bbit

    Always agreed with Jack that if a person had an unbearable agonizing worse fate than death illness they should be able to use medical help to defeat death before death finally gets them.It`s a smack in deaths face before it gets you & allows people to pass away in peace instead of agony.

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

    A hero to the suffering. Rest in eternal peace Dr. jack <3

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

    hello not all the people who died with help from jack were terminal one had fibromyalgia husband and jack were able to help her end her "suffering" as a person who has lived with fibro for 30 years sometimes death seemed like a solution however,after many years of various drugs and testing a new drug coupled with new understanding of this disorder has emlimated endless pain glad i did not know jack living life to the fullest

    June 3, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      So, after hundreds of thousands of dollars in experimental treatment, YOU got lucky, therefore all will get lucky.
      By that logic, most of our medical treatments would never exist, as everything that looks or acts similar is the same, which it is NOT.
      First, there is no such thing as a disease fibromyalgia, it is a set of SYMPTOMS. It is NOT a diagnosis. It LITERALLY means pain of fibers, as in muscle or connective tissues.
      That is like a "diagnosis" of joint pain and never finding the cause, arthritis, lyme disease, gumma...
      You got lucky. Many do not.
      But, yes! Let's base all treatments off of one success and treat humans in less a humane way that we treat animals.
      Because, gawd wants you to suffer in his eternal love or some tripe like that.
      YOU are not capable of deciding what you can withstand, what your quality of life is or that your life may end, even if you are terminal, because YOU are chattel. The property of the state.
      And we all ARE the property of the state. Up to the early 20th century, if someone attacked you, the court case would be you vs them. Later, we became property of the state, hence that same case is now the state vs them.
      So, we are chattel and not permitted to make important decisions.
      Only the Christian Taliban are permitted to make those big decisions.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Doctor

    Wonderful. So he didn't operate out of a van. He murdered his patients in an office environment.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      So does many doctors, claiming to be practicing medicine, but practicing HMO. Like the 14 year old with uterine cancer, whose diagnosis and treatment was delayed by the HMO until her uterus had perforated, the cancer spreading beyond and into her abdomen.
      But, she should be kept alive at all costs, with all pain, because the almighty God of medicine says so.
      Be a good slave, obey the medical master. Even IF they are the ones who killed you, by cooperating with the doctor driven HMO.
      I REALLY have to get the hell out of this nation of idiots. Sell the house, take my military pension and get to where it's safe, where the amoral Taliban majority can't try to rule every level of my life. If my wife of 30 years wants to come, fine, otherwise, to hell with her too.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jimbo

    Legalize the green goodness.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. reli

    Wonderful man... thank you for all you good work sir.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jennifer

    I'm sure glad that I went through radiation and chemo even though my Doctor told me it was a long shot instead of seeking assisted suicide! The long shot paid off, my pain is gone and I have my entire life ahead of me now!

    June 3, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • deathandtaxes

      that was your choice... not everyone feels as you do

      June 3, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      That is why people should have a CHOICE. Not everyone has the same results nor does everyone feel the same way. Who are you to decide otherwise? Its no one business besides the patients. Im very sick of other people sticking their noses in other peoples lives when it comes to issues like this and abortion. Stay the hell out of it. God said in the bible to not judge your fellow man, all the bible humpers out there seem to forget that little tidbit

      June 3, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
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