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. JB

    The doctors are not deciding, the terminally ill patients are deciding.

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

    We put our pets to sleep so they don't suffer and it takes maybe 30 seconds. we give criminals who have done the most horrible of crimes and are on death row, lethal injections.

    Why are people so callus towards those that suffer daily with terminal diseases? If they want to go, let them go. It's time an individuals religious dogma quits interfering with the lives of others.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Huh?

    Listen to you fools, there is no pit deep enough nor hell hot enough to compare to his future lives.

    Personally if I were his creator he would incarnate back time after as fetus on its way to a late term abortionist until I got tired of watching his ichor congeal in the wast heap!

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

    For anyone who, perhaps from the reactionary stirrings of one's irrational intuition, feels that such end-of-life practices are immoral, unethical, or incomprehensible, I urge you to watch an extremely thoughtful and profound piece on the existence of horrible suffering in our world and the efforts and hindrances of people who endeavor to mitigate such suffering. It was made for PBS, and is called "The Suicide Tourist," and you can watch it in its entirety online.

    pbs DOT org/wgbh/pages/frontline/suicidetourist/

    June 3, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hmmm

    I have been blessed because the loved ones I have lost all went quickly and did not linger on this earth in pain. I believe that assisted suicide can have its merits, but that it should be watched very closely so there are no abuses. If everyone has a right to live, they have a right to die how they choose. If the person is lucid and understands what they are asking, it should be a decision between them and their doctor. Law enforcement should only oversee it to make sure the person wants to die and is competent to make that decision. They should not impede the process otherwise.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Debbie

    Dr. K was a kind, compassionate and very enlightened human being. RIP

    June 3, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • donh

      I don't doubt his motives but he was naive.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blake

      R.I.P. Guy was ahead of this time for sure.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dr. j.d.kline


    June 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rudi

    The answer is on www TheDimensionMachine dot com

    June 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. zzzzz

    Feel sad about the patients whose best option was assisted suicide to get out of the pain and suffering.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stacie

    It's so bizarre that americans completely understand that when their pets are suffering at the end of life, the compassionate thing to do is to help them pass with a painless death. But for some reason, when conscious human beings want the same compassionate treatment, people start screaming about "murder" and calling Kevorkian "Dr. Death." Bizarre.

    Thank you Dr. Kevorkian – I hope doctors all over this country heard your message and will continue your compassionate work.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • donh

      Think about it – it's because people can take advantage of this if allowed and really abuse it. Nothing stopping people from ending their own suffering – just helping people do it that is the problem.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim in Dallas

      Stacie, you expressed yourself very well and I agree 100% with your comments.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • kevin k in tx

      i guess it is better for ppl to jump off buildings, take cyinide, or splatter their brains all over the place with a gun.. Donh.. get with the program.. this man was a forward thinking individual and shouild not have spent those years in prison.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. S2EQ

    Dear CNN – Thrombosis is a blood clot in one area of the body. Embolism is when the blood clot breaks free and causes a blockage in an artery. Perhaps Sanjay should be writing these articles. Regardless, RIP Dr. Kevorkian – you helped the suffering when they asked during a time of great need.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. donh

    nobody is stoping people from committing suicide, it's assisted suicide thats in question. It's a slippery slope of possible deceit and corruption. To allow it is to regulate it. To regulate it is to get the state or federal government involved and I don't trust "officials" in such ways, neither should you. To simply say "it's between a person and their doctor" is about as naive as you can be. If a person wants to end it so bad then they don't need someone to "help" them – just do it. If they're too scared to do it themselves then sorry but don't go asking someone else to do it.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • assistance in asile Donh

      Donh, if you have become physically weak or paralyzed from Huntington's chorea or Lou Gherig's or have a had a devastating stroke or are paralyzed from MS, you WILL need help ending your life quickly, painlessly and with dignity. Until you have lived with a condition ("terminal" or not) in which you no longer have any quality of life left, you can't possibly understand why this issue is so important. Your life and death isn't about your loved ones' opinions, it's about your own. Their life and death isn't about your opinion, it's about their own. Get it?

      June 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Some people do not have the resources, nor the knowledge to do it humanely, and without possibly endangering others. Some do not have the ability (ex. a paralysis patients with cancer). As long as the doctor and patient agree that it is the best course of action, or even just the preferred course, there should be nothing to stop them, seeing that the doctor agrees to assist. The problem lies in knowing whether someone has knowingly convinced the patient to kill themselves for their own benefit. Corruption is the problem. We don't have a surefire way to prevent corruption. Not to mention people have their heads stuck up their asses about this stuff and won't consider euthanasia as an alternative. People are too afraid to ask questions about the status-quo.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Actually, the law stops people from committing suicide (theoretically). It is illegal.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • sane

      But it's OK for "government" to say you can't? You definitely have a double standard.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim in Dallas

      donh, you have a very naive view of the end of life decision process. I believe you are a good person but your elevator doesn't quite make it to the top!! I suggest you give more thought to this very serious issue.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • *

      You know what donh? Oregon and Washington both currently have Death with Dignity laws. There are very strict guidelines that have to be followed. There is no slippery slope. You can go on line and look at detailed statistics for Oregon, and see the conditions that the patients had, how many requested, and ultimately took the prescribed drugs. The hysteria of the opponents of these laws has proved to be completely unfounded. And it most assuredly IS between the doctor, the patient and their family.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. brown

    Jack was the person I look to whenever I needed to see courage.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. HeIsGod

    I hope he repented and gave his life to Christ beforehe died. I sure would hate to be a dead atheist, agnostic, or an unbeliever.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Polly

      you see dead dead atheists, dead agnostics, and dead unbelievers are the same as any dead religious person; they're all just dead. (btw, what is the distinction between atheist and unbeliever? seems redundant, but perhaps you could clarify.)

      June 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. May

    RIP, Dr. K. Thank you for all of the work you did on this issue. I have been a longtime fan and will advocate for the right of the suffering to die, if they so chose.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
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