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. Jim in Dallas

    Two comments: 1) a terminally ill person who wishes to end his/her life via a caring physician should be able to do so without any interference from outsiders; 2) there is a physician resourse aspect that has received little comment. When a physician is treating a terminally ill person against their will, there is an opportunity cost in that someone else who wants treatment has to wait. There are times that those in "wait" suffer bad consequences.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. GuestColin

    This is how you gain immortality – long after this man has become one with the Earth, his name will continue to be mentioned as a pioneer speaking the truth no one wanted to hear. Peace to you on your journey Dr and thank you.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tallulah13

    Three people I loved very much all died of terminal diseases. Two of cancer, one of a disease that destroyed the body but left the mind very much intact. Their suffering was tremendous. All of them were starving because their bodies no longer let them take sustenance. All of them had active lives until their ability to function was stolen by disease.

    Until you have seen a loved one struggle desperately for the next breath, knowing that it would NEVER become any easier, you have no right to judge anyone who chooses to end their suffering. Until you have seen the utter despair of someone who knows that they will simply continue to deteriorate until the mind is trapped in a body that no longer functions, you have no right to judge.

    Those who say there is "anything is possible with god" neglect to mention that prolonged suffering and death are what is probable.Miracles are in short supply these days. Those that say that a doctor should "do no harm" don't seem to recognize that prolonging pain in someone who has no chance of recovery IS doing harm. Morality without compassion is not moral at all, just a power trip. If you are okay with endless suffering and despair before you die, you go for it. But you have no right to deny the choice of someone who is ready to die.

    Thank you Dr. Kevorkian, for making the discussion of this even possible, and for helping make the choice possible in at least 2 states.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. edwardo

    How nice to see so much support for him! I was conditioned as a child to see him as evil. Once I grew up, I saw him as a pioneer. Perhaps we are evolving toward true liberty and freedom for each individual to choose her own path. God bless.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alan

    Regardless of what point you hold about this man, consider one thing: The government convited him of murder not that many years ago. Now, thanks to Obama, the government will be taking the place of Jack with it's own death panels. Now, not only can they kill the unborn simply by saying they are not really human till they are born, now they can say it costs too much to care for you, and we should have to put you down. Have you ever noticed that these rules do not apply to the rich who have plundered this country? They will have the money for care, it is only the poor and middle class that will be subject to this. My how far we have fallen in a single lifetime. Once the beacon of light for all the world to follow, now only the rich have a right to live. America has fallen, fallen. May God bless us all. If you do not believe in God, then there is no hope. For mankind is too stupid to survive for much longer on it's own.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Ugh, Alan, you religious fool. We will survive just fine without god. Looks like we've been doing just fine for thousands of years with no god, so whatever happens, happens! Besides, with all your death panel talk I am sure you are very informed about how this is a common practice with insurance providers. Not sure how you left that out..... not much to do with Obama, really. We are failing because too many dolts like yourself want to turn to god for help.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jet

      Where are you coming up with this tripe? If you want to see death panels, see Republican Paul Ryan's plan for our Medicare system. Now THAT is something to be afraid of! The Obama plan has been helping me so far by finally allowing coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, as well as continued coverage to children on their parents' plan until they are 26, among other things. No death panels in sight there!

      June 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      Wow, spouting out some b.s. about death panels and Obama that has nothing to do with the article? I'm schocked. I know you won't read this, and even if you did you won't care enough to do your own research, but why doesn't it bother you more that you refuse to ask your own questions? Health insurance companies have had death panels for years, they're the people that deny claims outright...Why are you acting like it's new, or that you're suddenly upset about it? Maybe instead of blaming one person, you should look at your own lack of education on the topic..

      June 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Busted

      Man it gets harder and harder to defend christians when people criticize their arrogance as the reason for their ignorance. First, in existence today, are ethics boards which decide whether patience can live or die. This is no different then what Palin coined the death panels, either way the authority of these panels was removed from the Obama healthcare legislation. It is pathetic and sad that people have to make up lies to support their beliefs. Alan, go back to Fox it is a more blissful place for people like you, stupid and satisfied.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arif

      I understand how the mamma grizzy has convinced you that Death Panels will be part of the Government sponsored health care. First, not true, that was learned last year, so don't pull a Trump by trying to rehash the issue. Also, if fetuses are people, why aren't they citizens? Answer: they are biologically connected to a woman; therefore, they aren't humans, but rather like an appendix. Btw: don't bring religion into a scientific or political debate. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!!

      June 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandy

      oh boy get a life!!

      June 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andie

      Pro-lifers, never think before they speak... keep your opinions out of my uterus.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • DrJKH

      Pro deathers never think. Keep your selfish desires away from babies' right to live.

      June 4, 2011 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim in Dallas

      Alan, you and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I think the one point I totally disagree with you is that you don't factor in the wishes of the mentally sound and terminally ill person who wants to humanely end their suffering through the services of a physician. Who is in a better position to make that decision?

      June 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • 40Mack

      Oh Jeez, another right wing religious nut whose never actually been off of the front porch to experience real life. So much info you have about nothing, backed up by nothing. Obviously you've never had to deal with a sick family member or friend. Another religious, arm-chair QB telling the world their view-a view from the fairytale in their head. Terrific.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • AndyTheGameInventor

      My mother lives in Canada, and my late far was a physician there. When I chatted with my Mom about the so-called "death panels" that US Media claims that Canada has, she laughed and said, and I am NOT making this up: (can't recall the exact words, but it was something like) "Hah! The biggest problem is that they don't let you die! They keep throwing more and more care at you even when you don't want it." My Mom is 81 and in good helath but like most people of her age there are a few problems. The government spend $44K/year giving her a medication that she doesn't really feel she needs.

      If the US system is so much better than Canada's, why is the life expectancy in Canada 2.5 years longer than in the USA?

      June 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey M

      Are your ADHD? Or what?

      June 3, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey M

      Are you ADHD? Or what?

      June 3, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • ben

      you mean perhaps, the inner god that will all have, it we can get in touch with itl. Perhaps, the afterlife is light energy levels with no religious structure at all. How can we know as earth beings,-we are too earth bound.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • 19random35

      We have always survived without God because all religions are false.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • jmjmjmjmjm

      So true. Two thumbs up!

      June 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • cm

      19random15 WOW who are you to claim such a falsehood? Go somewhere else with your atheist agenda. You bore us.

      June 3, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      Thank you Alan. Alot of the worldly replies have to do with accountability. Some people don't want it. Stay in the Word "John 1:1" John 14:6".

      June 3, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. faboge

    this doctor was a pioneer and understood the misery of chronic and debilitating illnesses... RIP Doc!

    June 3, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • SuperJC

      faboge is right, doctor Kevorkianwas a pioneer and understood the misery of chronic and debilitating illnesses... RIP Doc!
      When patient both aging and under such [chronic and debilitating illnesses], he/she just suffered the tortures. My farther-in-law was in such kind of situation, and for sure hospital with good medical service couls prolonge the suffering period.
      But we also need to understand the patient's right.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    I guess he knows if helping people commit suicide was a good idea or not now.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephen Jerome

      Assuming there is an afterlife, I agree with you fully. And on that matter, assuming that there is a heaven and hell, this righteous soul is surely in the presence of the greatest saints populating the afterlife.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • 19random35

      He's probably not aware he ever existed. A great, brilliant, and compassionate man, though.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mark

    He was a good man doing good things for people in need, at their request. He was chased and demonized by self-rightous and religous zealots.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mark

    He was a good man doing good things for people in need, at their request. He was chased and demonized by religous and self-rightous zealots.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. demonfeed

    I will be going to the Netherlands for a nice, peaceful euthanasia when I get too sick to keep going. Again, American morals just made me take my business elsewhere. They will get the money. Everything you make illegal, someone somewhere else makes legal so they can pick up the demand America creates. Then we waste money prosecuting people like Kevorkian when his customers will either suffer, or go to another country and spend money.

    We really need to stop making everything illegal, or we won't have anything to sell. This is something that is sell-able. I would pay a lot of money for a peaceful death.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bill Henderson

    Oh gosh, what a shame... "yawn"...

    June 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. palintwit

    FACT: Sarah Palin receives more hate mail and death threats than Obama.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Busted

      OK – here's another fact, you don't have access to that kind of information.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. June

    RIP Doc... You helped people carry out decisions that they could physically not accomplish themselves after their battles. Good person.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mark

    He was a good man doing good things for people in need, at their request. He was chased by self-rightous and religous zealots.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andie

      Mark, very well said.

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

    The real crime was putting this man in prison for helping people.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
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