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. hustlenflo

    Thank goodness Paul Ryan and the Republicans will carry on with Dr. Kevorkian's work. When they destroy Social Security and Medicare, millions of American seniors will no longer have to suffer – they will all be taken care of by Sarah Palin's death panel.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. epona30

    I plan to end my own life when I can no longer take care of my needs and I am too ill. I have told my husband this and he understands. My father plans to end his if he ever get to a point where he cannot function and life has no joy anymore. I understand this and it is his personal choice. It is not suicide to end your own life when there is no life left to be had.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. no

    Burn in your own hell, Jessica!

    June 3, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lisa

    If you suffer prolonged intolerable pain just once in your life you will understand why some people choose to die when their prognosis is that the pain will never end. It happened to me once long enough to understand that their are things far worse than dying. I am so grateful that I was able to get relief without dying, but after some terrible suffering I did begin to believe that death would be a relief. People should have the right to end their non-curable suffering with dignity. They should not be kept alive because of the selfish wishes ot others to have them around despite it. The body belongs to the soul who resides within it and to no one else. If the body is no longer fit to reside in, and there is no hope otherwise, the soul has the right to choose to leave. Yes, it is sad, but it's not as awful as torturing someone until they finally expire from a horrible pain filled existence. Let's be compassionate above all.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LiL Tex

    Dr. Death? I think not. This is a terrible name for a Man who cared so much about Humanity and never thought that suffering should be prolonged,My father in law suffered for 2 years RIP Dad.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • DC-JD

      Agreed. Very well put.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Irene

    This man had guts, sacrificed himself for others, I'm so glad he had a peaceful death himself.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Barry

    Dear Abraham,

    I failed to mention in my previous response to you, I am part Jewish, on my mother’s side. Of course I am among those who believe that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Messiah, who was prophesied about by Israel.

    As I’m sure you know Jesus was a Jew, as were the Twelve, as was the Apostle Paul and the other authors of the New Testament, as were the earliest Christians (those who founded the Christian movement). Incidentally they simply considered themselves to be Jews for quite some time, although they believed (as I do) that Jesus is the Messiah.

    Incidentally I am grateful to the Jews for making God known to all and for being the instrument through which God gave us his word (the Scriptures).

    I respect your viewpoint, as I do you. I wish you well, and may God bless you.


    (P.S., And God said to Abram…I will bless you...and will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you, I will curse…)

    Genesis 12:1-7

    June 3, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really

      Learn to think for yourself instead of following a book

      June 3, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • SW

      Nice note until you pleasantly said "If you don't agree with me, you shall die". Sounds radical to me. Sounds like the same mindset as radical muslims (sound familiar) only that you're not acting upon it...rather you wish your God to act upon it. I guess you're just one more like the rest of them.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • cm

      So REALLY - I take it you have learned absolutely nothing from books or any other kind of media? Wow must be nice to be born ready made and skip the total instruction part.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ummyeah

    you ever thought those that do not allow someone who is dying of a painful disease are enforcing suffering! You will lie in that hospital bed in pain till the end in some places and they would physically stop you if you tried to do something to yourself or if someone else tried to on your consent. Nothing wrong with this man, he was ethical in his practice, and got tried to help people through probably one of the most difficult things a person can go through. He didnt make the disease and he would cure them if he could. All he could do is try to help those choose when to end suffering, and choose the point of death that was close anyway, and then prosecuted by those who live in fear of words in a old book, and want to impose that fear upon others. RIP

    June 3, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jim

    Dr. Jack Kevorkian, was a great person. But because of foolish religious myths in this country he endured many hardships.
    Many people are still suffering because of these religious fairy tales. Oregon is the only humane state.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • JB

      Washington passed a Death with Dignity law in 2008

      June 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Texas Web

    In the 90s when I first read his story I didn't quiet understand why a doctor supposed to save lives turned around started in assisting patients to suicide. He had compassion to patients with terminal illness. The pain and suffering that patients have to go through with their terminal illness. Now, I know how that felt after loosing my mother -in-law. Before she passed away, she would pray to God, she wants to come home now. She would pray in the morning & before she went to bed to end her pain to take her home to his side. I watched her laying in bed sometimes with tears comes down her face. And When she passed away, I know how relieve she felt to finally be free to all of that,,,

    June 3, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. lisa

    @ BARRY

    June 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cindy

    I was saddened to hear of his death this morning – because this man brought peace to some people before being brutally dragged through the justice system....Birth, Living Life, then Death – there is no negotiating the fact that everyone will die at some point in their life. Everyone has free will, and if they are terminally ill, they have a choice to cross over whenever they want. Dr. Kevorkian just gave them a peaceful & compassionate way to do it. I am sad he won't be around and practicing if I ever get to a point in my life like that.........There should be no laws against how people want to handle their death, period... RIP...

    June 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Harvey

    When my time comes, if there isn't someone like Kevorkian around, I will do it myself. If I am suffering and without hope, I would rather make my peace than linger for a few more agonizing months

    June 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. D

    I assume the people who dislike Kevorkian would just sit back and laugh at the massive suffering of their loved ones. Seriously people, he didn't assist people with a twisted ankle or a stomach ache or the flu..these were terminal patients who were suffering more than you could probably imagine. Once again...keep your opinions out of other peoples lives..especially when it has nothing to do with you. Who exactly do you think you are to tell someone else that you don't know when it is their time to die? Pathetic.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. evan

    Scriptures states: "For it is appointed once for man to die, and after that comes the Judgement." Many will be going at this man from both directions, either praising him, or being angry at/for him. But at the end of it all, each and every one of us is gonna have to give account to Him who has the power to send to Heaven or Hell, Jesus Christ. I am not immune to this, nor is any one of you. Many will scoff at this comment, as is your right, but I do not make up the rules. God does, he made them. I just pray that Jack accepted the price Jesus paid (ironically His was the original + only death that can be justified), and will be going to heaven. If not, (and again I'm not the final judge), Jesus will be condemning Jack to a death worse than this human one, called "eternal separation" (the Bible, not my words). I pray that those who surround Jack see this comment and turn their lives over to God...

    June 3, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      Thank you for being a reasonable religious voice who does not automatically assert that his or her beliefs are to be followed by everyone, but by recognizing their free right of faith and expressing hope that they will see it in the way you do.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maximusvad

      The Bible-Morality for Dummies... Your God is evil to want people lie in suffering.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      Wow – I grew up with Southern Baptist Christian DOGMA shoved down my throat – and knew that this was not exactly right. Yes Jesus Christ is the most Evolved Being whoever lived and still exists in our Universe – but Jesus said "the Kingdom of God is within you" in Luke 17:21. Doesn't anybody really realize what he meant by this? There is no heaven or hell – oh yes we can live in hell right here in our own lives. Plus after truly becoming more and more enlightened like Jesus and Buddha, and so many other beautiful leaders – we can also live in Heaven here on Earth. And reincarnation, oh yes it makes the most sense, but I do not know until I die. Pick up the book ""Power vs. Force" by David R. Hawkins, M.D., PhD. and see where all religions are calibrated – interesting info.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      Oh I did not mean all of the peaceful people who follow Islam & the Quran – my apologies....Just the fanatic Muslims who use the Quran (FYI Islam is the fastest growing religion on our planet) for all of their atrocities. Myself, as millions of others wonder, why do people state Islam is a peaceful religion, yet there is so much intolerance and ignorance, and yes horrific acts of horror and death upon their own people, and for all those who disbelieve? Per the Quran "Kill the Infidels, Surah 9:5 (many state this is not really what it means) again shows how we should use common sense, and not follow these old books, written and rewritten and twisted so far from the truth.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
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