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. M. B. Justin

    He truly was a hero we are in a world that pretends that death and suffering do not
    go together when ill. Yes they do and it should be legal for we Americans to give legal
    directives at will to end our own lives if we wish to,or do we still favor someone jumping
    off a roof or using a rifle or pill overdose ,when one wishes for physical or mental illness reasons
    not to continue with pain.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jackson

    It's funny how none of you Kevorkian lovers want to address the fact that he supported assisted suicide for non-terminal patients.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Regardless, non-terminal pain can be great enough that it some people cant bear to live with it. Whats your response?

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

      "that it...." meant "that for...." cant type today. lol

      June 3, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      You fail to understand Jackson's point!
      You do not deserve to make that decision. You are not able to decide important things in life.
      You are too stupid and mere chattel, you cannot choose to end suffering, you must obey. OBEY.
      DIE IN PAIN. LIVE IN PAIN. PAIN is God's way of showing he loves you, in his infinite mercy. Listen to the Taliban of the moral majority.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Wzrd1- Funny....I never read about god anywhere in Jackson's point. Seems that would be your point.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jen Hill

    Dr. Kevorkian: You have always been and will continue to be one of my heroes. I strongly believe and support what you fought for. As promised, when I have the funds to complete the refurbishment of your Cadillac, I will utilize it as a tool to educate and advocate what you so strongly believed in and to help your memory live on. The fact that you sent me a personal letter meant more to me than words can describe and I will always cherish it. When my mother died of cancer, she slowly and painfully killed herself. She needed you or someone like you. I only hope that the last moments of your life were as dignified and peaceful as those you assisted with terminating their lives. Ultimate respect.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. phlyer

    I'd love to hear the discussion between God and Dr. Kevorkian when he arrived about who has the final responsibility and authority over human life. If you don't believe God exists, it wouldn't matter to you (at least for now), but if God does exist, this would be a conversation that everyone would benefit from.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • deathandtaxes

      if god exists, i dont think he'd care

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

      Wow, you really thought that one out. If God did exist.....and all of us here on earth were suddenly privy to his meeting with an individual, wouldn't a conversation between God and anyone be a conversation that everyone could benefit from?

      Pretty sure if all of a sudden God and "Dave" were talking and everyone could hear it would be beneficial.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Real Simple


    June 3, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. Barry

    Dr. Kevorkian was compassionate, humane and courageous—a good man.

    Sometimes individuals must do what society and civil authorities are unable or unwilling to do, because they lack the capacity, resolve or good sense to do.

    I once came across a deer, which had been hit by a car and was lying by the road. It may have had a broken back and broken leg(s); it was trying to get up but couldn’t.

    The deer was frightened and suffering. I wished there was something I could do help it, but I knew I couldn’t. As I stood there, how I wished I had the means to promptly and humanely put an end to the animal’s suffering.

    As I and others stood by helplessly, I thought of how a Native-American would have handled such a situation. I trust that they would have swiftly–but respectfully and reverently–ended the animals suffering and made good use of the deer’s remains.

    I am a Christian, and I like my Jewish brothers and sisters, I believe that humans are made in the image and likeness of God; and, therefore, humans should be treated with the utmost respect and care, especially when it comes to the gift of life.

    Christians and Jews believe what the Torah (i.e., the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) teaches about life–that only God can give life and only God should take a life, whether it be animal or human.

    But even the Torah teaches that, after the Flood, God made allowance and authorized the taking of the life of an animal (see: Gen. 90:3; Leviticus 1-ff), and that the lives of certain animals be could be taken for food and used for sacrifice. Of course certain strict guidelines were required to be observed, including those that insured the humane killing of an animal.

    The Torah also makes allowance for and authorized the taking of a human life, as in the case of executing a murderer and going to war. Again here the crucial point is, the taking of a human life must only be done as a part of divine activity, which naturally includes divine principles of justice and mercy.

    The Torah teach that all life—especially human life—must be treated with the utmost respect and care and that the taking of any life (animal or human) must be done according to the strictest divine principles and means. As mentioned these principles include both divine principles of justice and mercy (or compassion), and they must be done with divine facilitation.

    In the third chapter of Genesis, we find that God was willing to sacrifice animals (which are precious to him), in order to clothe and restore Adam and Eve, after they transgressed the most elementary and essential principle of life (see: Gen. 3:1-f).

    May God give peace and rest to Dr. Kevorkian’s soul and comfort and peace to his family and loved ones.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. Phil

    Sucks, he did good work.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jessica

    Funny. Kevorkian didn't seek suicide to end his pain. Pneumonia and renal failure are pretty nasty ways to go, yet Kevorkian didn't drink his own jim jones kool aid.

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

      Boooo! Very bad post.

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

      Don't ever dare compare someone who is an advocate for the most basic human right we have to someone crackpot religious cult leader like Jim Jones.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • epona30

      Yes it is. I have see it first hand. It should be a personal choice to die when you are suffering but the religious have taken that choice away and require you to suffer in the name of their God. Very sad state of affairs that people do not even have the right to chose to not suffer. Seems like a pretty basic human right to me.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Zandari

    I think what he offered was one of the most humane things anyone could ever offer. I fully support what he did. I fully support the right to die. Some people don't want to be here. Some people don't want to continue to suffer but they don't want to blow their brains out and leave a mess and go out in pain. What he did was great. He was a great servant of humanity.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tim Jordan

    Stunning all the hypocritical Christers have so little compassion for those with terminal diseases. We treat pets better in the US than we do people in the last stage of life. Dr. Kevorkian did more for the rights of the sick than any so-called Christian that comes to mind. Can you imagine any gold-plated fraud like Joel Osteen ever fighting for anything other than something that grows his bank account?

    June 3, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. 1 Time Flat Fee

    At least he assisted suicide humanely. Other physicians rather have you die slowly with all the pills they prescribe. Gotta be alive to pay for your pharmaceuticals!

    June 3, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Lee Oates

    Thank you Dr. Jack Kevorkian for your courage and convictions. I hope that when I reach that point in my life where it becomes nothing but pain and suffering, that I have someone like you nearby.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. Joan B

    No one is wrong here in their statements about this man. Why? Because we ALL have a right to our own opinion. I would say the way you all are bickering your all acting like spoiled brats.

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

      I am sorry, but anyone who claims they know better than I do about how I should go out is wrong. If ever there were a case where the world "wrong" has any meaning, it applies to those who impose their will upon others.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. For GodOnly

    There are far more people who would rather fight with their last ounce of courage rather than take the easy way out by being purposely killed by another. Remember that God gave one their life and only HE can take it back. What part of "Thou Shalt Not Kill" do you not understand? Man does not have the right to do that no matter what the patient wants or demands. Thank God the laws in most states are against the killing of those who may not even be in the right state of mind to make such a decision for themselves let alone let others make such a personal decision for them.

    June 3, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sarav Chidambaram

    Let his soul rest in peace. He is a very compassionate person who helped end lot of sufferings. My religion dictates something else, but my compassion for those who suffer trumps those saying. Thank you Dr. Jack Kevorkian

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

      well said

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