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. Jerry

    Good riddance. RIP, if you can!

    June 3, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Hostile

    Ironic... He could aid others in death, but not himself....

    June 3, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      He wasn't terminal and he expected to live but the blood clot killed him.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      How is it ironic? Explain.

      June 3, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jerry

    Good riddance! RIP, if you can!

    June 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jessica

    RIP Jack, and thank you for helping to pass the assisted suicide laws. You were right, we were treating our pets better at the end of their lives better than we were treating ourselves.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. beachy

    Suffering, in pain or not... we're all 'terminal'. It just depends on the timing. And just because you CAN do something (as in take a life regardless of whether it is assisted or not) DOESN'T make it right.

    June 3, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • MissouriMan

      I hear what you are saying, however, that view does not mean you can make that decision for someone else. It is not your decision. This is one of the biggest problems in our society; too many people feel they have the right to decide for someone else simply because that persons veiw does not align with their own.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      The problem is that you view it as "taking a life" when what you're really doing is forbidding someone else to die that wants to. You're taking control from someone else that you have no right to do.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nunya

      If I make the choice, the choice is correct. No argument, no debate.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nanci Meek

      I agree Our father we allege was under the spell of foul play during his last days, isolation, elder abuse, abuse by Bank of Hawaii , attorneys, our stepmother, all for the sake of taking over 4.2 million However dr K was doing what he felt was a service and with the blessings of the victim and family members. Our dad was totally abused before and after his death Look at the video and let me know your thoughts


      June 3, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shaz

      Would you be saying the same thing if you had a horrible, painful terminal cancer? Don't let your religious dogma affect what others want to do.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd G

      Actually, he didn't take ANY lives. He assisted. In fact, all he did was provide the means to make it happen. It's called assisted suicide for a reason. The person wanting to die did all the work. he just set up the equipment and showed them what to do. His hands were clean. As they should be.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry L

      My dad went through ten horrible final days of dying from cancer – preceeded by months of pain. Toward the end they witheld food and water from him. I watched him gasp for breath – with sores in his mouth and cracked lips. My religous sister controlled his medication and insisted we wait for "God's will". If she is correct her god is cruel. When our dogs suffer too much we're kind enough to end it for them and allow them to experience a peaceful and painless death. Why did my dad deserve less than our dog?

      June 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AndyTheGameInventor

    The most difficult day of my life was not the one when my father passed away. It was a few months earlier when, in the late stages of cancer, he asked us if, should the need arise, would we give him a lethal dose of drugs. As a retired physician himself, he had easy relatively acccess to the drugs (there were lots of them at his home) and he would have no trouble self-administering a lethal dose. His fear was that he may becomne incapacitated and unable to physically do it himself. Although we promised that we would, I think we said it to make him feel better – we were well aware that actually doing so would be a serious criminal offense, and I don't think I could have done it. It's unfortunate that the religiously-driven segments of society won't differentiate between suicides of people for whom help is possible (for example for depression) and those for whom it's just a matter of not suffering for the last days or weeks of their lives.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jennifer Aument

    My mother suffered greatly at the end of her painful battle with pancreatic cancer, she was 62. She died when the doctors refused to remove the fluid in her abdomen, they said it was pointless – and it was. She drowned to death when her lungs filled up to the point where she was panting like a dog to get a breath. I sat with my mother, the woman who raised me to be as fierce and independent as she was in life, and watched her needlessly suffer in her final weeks. Dr. Kevorkian was a selfless man and a true hero.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      I am truly sorry for your loss. I saw my father die from cancer, the only saving grace was it took him fast with little suffering. i am very much a christian but i also have a hard time seeing people needlessly suffer. it should be up to the person not our legislators.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    If someone wants to die on their own free will because they are suffering physically they should have the right. This guy did nothing wrong. None of us know what PAIN a person may be going through that would drive them to even think about killing themselves so it is a bit hard for us to judge.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. GOSS

    A man before his time....the world needs more Jack Kevorkian's. R.I.P

    June 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jay

    I have always agreed with Jack Kevorkian's position on assisted suicide. For those who think it's wrong, we do the same for our animals when they are suffering. We put them to sleep and they die with dignity in my opinion. As an animal lover, I have had to put my dog down when cancer spread throughout his body. I watched as he quietly fell asleep in my arms, snoring before his breathing was no more. We need to apply this to humans!

    June 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tom California

    I didnt believe in assisted suicide until I met my friend "Mitch". He was once very sucessfull. He owned severl rental properties, ran a yard maintenance company and drove heavy eqipment at a gold mine just for fun. He was also engaged to be married. And then he was hit by a drunk driver. He sufferend a serious brain injury to his right frontal lobe leaving him paralized on the left side of his body. On top of that his right leg was crushed to the point the doctors wanted to amputate. He spent six months in a coma and when he woke up he had to learn to talk again. He is now suffers from seisures and the medication he has to take to controle it has terrible side effects. He now has to live on alittle more than $700 a month Which in southern California barely pays the rent. Most months he is out of money before the end of the second week of the month. He has to beg for food and sometimes for money just to buy his anti-seisure medication. He is lucky to have a support system of friends and family. This is no way for a man to live.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TransitionGuide

    Thank you Dr. K. for laying the groundwork for Death With Dignity becoming a medical procedure. The current laws in Oregon, Washington and Montana are just the beginning, not of a slippery slope, but of a dignified way of ending a life that has lost all quality. If you want to see the opposite of dignified, watch "Facing Death" on Frontline, about what it's like to die in an ICU then watch "How to Die in Oregon" on HBO. Visit Compassion & Choices online. Educate yourself for your own sake and for your loved ones. Fill out an Advance Directive and make your wishes known to your family and doctors. Take control of your life and death.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mary Ann F., Sellersville, PA

    Dr. Kevorkian was light years ahead of his time. I'd like to think that medical ethics on the right to die will resolve this soon but the sad reality is that it will be financial concerns about end of life costs that will bring us all to the conclusion the doctor has promoted for years: we alone should decide when and how we die when there's no hope or continuous suffering. I'm glad he has died peacefully without the need for intervention.

    Mary Ann F.

    Sellersville, PA

    June 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joseph Peter Ward

    We, as a society, need physician assisted life termination. Suffering endured by terminal patients is simply inhumane – so you jack them up on opiates until they aren't the same people anymore. They eventually pass, but they leave without the dignity a life well lived deserves.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kathy

    May God have mercy on his soul!

    June 3, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
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