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. AN

    My mother died last year of pancreatic cancer. She endured excruciating pain the past two months of her life, and no matter how much pain medication she was given, it didn't control the breakthrough pain. Anyone in her position should be given the choice of ending life and not have to wither away with such horrible pain. I always thought Dr. Kevorkian was a bad person based on what I read, but until you live the ordeal of cancer or any other horrible disease, you now look at Dr. Kevorkian as a hero.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. fred

    "No, no. It's your purpose (as a) physician. How can you regret helping a suffering patient? "
    Now what is wrong with this statement? I will tell you.. Dr. K was a pathologist. His only "patients" were slides and samples. He never met with any patients except the ones he helped to kill. If he really wanted to talk with patients, then he should have picked a different specialty.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cc

    the bible said the fool has said in his heart there is no God, also the bible says that the country that forget God will be turn into hell, no one notice what is happening in america, storms, floods, loss of jobs, dow fallimg, just because you don't believe in God or the BIBLE don't make him disappeared, the bible also say that every tongue and knee shall bow and confess that jesus christ is lord, so this doctor was a murder, no one has the right to take another person life, even if that person insisted, that person did not give himself life so he has no right to take it, God holds our life in his hand, that what's wrong in this country, people think because the are educated and has college disgree they think they know better than God, He is real, and like i said before, he's not going to go away just because people don't believe, that dr. is probably in hell right about now if he didn't repent and give his life to jesus for the death of these people. so before some one say i;m judging, the bible say you know them by their fruit and i'm a furit inspector. and yes I"M a strong believer in Jesus Christ, and don't say i'm dumb, because the bible say God comfound the wise.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baranga the Great

      Yeah, well God also created diseases that leave people to suffer horrible pain day in and day out, leading lives of undeserved suffering for not only them but their friends and families who are are forced to watch a holocaust happen within the body of a loved one. God is great, and very real, but God also had the foresight to give people the free will necessary to make the choice that enough is enough. I do not agree with everything this doctor stood for, but I do believe he brought the issue of an individual's right to make that choice for themselves to the attention of the world at large. Any you say he is burning in hell? Would you really wish hell on anyone? Damnation and suffering for ever and ever and ever and a day? If you do, then maybe we should force these chronically ill people live out their lives. By the end of them, they will not fear hell, for they will have already been through it.

      June 3, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • larry c. lyons

      Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
      Then he is not omnipotent.

      Is he able, but not willing?
      Then he is malevolent.

      Is he both able and willing?
      Then whence cometh evil?

      Is he neither able nor willing?
      Then why call him God?

      – Epicurus

      June 3, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jenn

    I may not agree with every point of view Dr K had on this subject, but I sure as hell wish I could have helped my mother and kept her from a slow, painful, demeaning death from Lung Cancer that spread to the brain and bone. The light went out of her eyes, she wasted away to 80 lbs and wore a diaper. I never, ever want to go through that or put the people I love through it. I wish she had the choice to end her life on her terms before all of that suffering and I know she would have. We all would have been grateful.

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


    June 3, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Betty M Borough

    A man ahead of his times.

    June 3, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phyllis Crubaugh

      I agree completely. Unless you you have had a loved one that has suffered for months and years with intolerable pain, or you are yourself terminal- there is no way to really appreciate the sacrifice that Jack made for his patients. He should have been given a medal instead of a prison sentence. Imagine- a dedicated Doctor! Who knew???

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

      He had to be the most underappreciated man in history. The crime was locking him up for being a compasionate human being. Even for people who do not believe in suicide, he brought the plight of people dying in extreme pain to the attention of the medical coumminity, who then took great strides to remedy the situation. Thanks to him, people can die with dignity and without pain. Walt Disney runs a close second to him as the greatest contributor ever to human happiness. May history some day give this giant among men his due.

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

      Wonderful Man... ahead of his times.... go and know you were understood by a few.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. The RonFez Listener

    Hey guys, The Last interview was done on The Ron And Fez Show – The Virus – XM Radio – June 24. What a guy

    June 3, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Christy

    He was a doctor that helped people who decided what they wanted to do! I can only hope that when my time comes there is another doctor out there that would help me if I chose to end my life instead of suffering! RIP Dr. Kevorkian.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. 19random35

    Civilization continues to march forward due to heroes like Kervorkian, that are willing to risk everything for what is right. Reactionary, religious fundamentalists struggle with all their might to hold people back, to keep them under their thumb, to hinder the progress of humanity.

    It was so in the Dark Ages with the Roman Catholic Church. It has been so with fundie Islam in the Middle East. And it is so in 21st century America with the anti-intellectual, anti-science, speaking-in-tongues zealots.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. doogie

    Why is it everyone I have spoken to supports him, feels he helped people? I do. He was a wonderful man. So, who was it that got him convicted? That person needs to become terminally ill and see how it feels to die in pain. We need more people like Dr. Kevorkian.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bates

      The trial where he was put in jail, it was the family of the man he helped. They claimed he didn't want to commit suicide despite videos saying otherwise. Jack was a real doctor doing what his patients asked him to do. You left quite a legacy Jack, RIP.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shawn

    NEWS FLASH... Death Panels have been around for a while. They're called Insurance Companies. Just because you have insurance doesn't mean that they'll cover everything. Also, while I have respect for medical professionals, (I have non for insurance companies), they are only human. Yes, you'll probably get a good diagnosis if you have an arrow sticking through your head. Things that are not so obvious will be hit or miss. Health costs are going up and insurance companies are "for profit". We will all die. Some sooner than later. There are too many people in the US that are going through "Medical Bankruptcy". This is on top of the fact that they're seriously ill. And don't forget the spouse and children of the ill. They get to see suffering first hand that they will live with for the rest of their lives. Politicians need to stop pointing fingers and get back to the peoples work. If they can't do that, then we the people need to find someone who can.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tom63

    I find it interesting this man didn't have the guts to do to himself what he convinced so many should be done to them. I guess assisted suicide is ok–unless you're the one dying.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • PithyMcGee

      You are stunningly unintelligent.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • flowers and rainbows


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

      well, clearly, he did not want to die.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • JB

      How completely ignorant.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • really?

      Hey Tom, if you become terminal and live in excruciating pain 24/7, you will know the kindness that this man provided. I have seen that suffering due to late stage breast cancer, and I wouldn't wish that on an enemy.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dwiteschrute

    Sigh. This just reminds me of how messed up our country has become by allowing religious fanatics and the so called "pro-life" agenda having an influence in our government. When are we going to wake up and realize religion has no place in the 21st century.

    June 3, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Beth

    This man is a hero. He fought for our right to die with dignity. In honor of his death I'm going to be more active carrying on his cause. .

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

    This was a man who preyed on scared people. Not every "patient" of his was dying or facing an incurable disease-filled life of pain. Many were depressed and scared. Rather than taking the time to make sure of their conditions, he killed them as fast as possible because it was something he was obsessed with. For the record, I am dealing with an incurable illness and I live with pain every day and things will eventually get worse for me...but I do not consider suicide an option. The real dignity we all have is facing life, making the most of it and allowing God to decide when to take us. Both my parents suffered difficult deaths, but both praised God for their lives and every moment they had with their families right to the end. THEY are the real heroes in this life and I hope to be as brave as they were as my end nears. NEVER will I praise a serial killer!!!!!! May God have mercy on you, Jack.

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

      I'm truly sorry for your pain and the hand you have been dealt. I hope you are able to find peace in the fact that you live in a country where you can deal with you illness and pain on your own terms.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      If God really existed then surely he wouldn't put people through so much pain and suffer the indignity of a long drawn out death in the first place. But the christian God is nothing more than a sadist. One only has to read the bible to see....

      June 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hooligan

      wow.. you just make up anything that justifies your personal religion dont you?

      June 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • *

      He did not prey on anyone. The people that he assisted sought him out. He turned down 90% of them. Your choice to suffer until the last breath is just that, your choice. And that is what this is about, choice. Not everyone shares your religious and moral views.

      June 3, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not So Nice!!

      So, you personally know the alleged victims and that justifies you calling Jack a serial killer? Well, what did you do to P!$$ your God off? I think George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are much worse serial killers. Look at all the American lives they have damaged or destroyed and for what? I have no sympathy for you. You have the audacity to judge and criticize someone that has done more good for his alleged victims than the Bush administration did for his country. His alledged victims had a choice. Our military personell do not. Judge not for you have been judged. Nice live to ya@

      June 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
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