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)

    Like my man, mr. Eastwood said! We all got it coming. It depends on what you have inside and 2 know where you are going.

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

    I am fortunate to live in progressive Oregon, where we've had a "Death with Dignity" law in effect for over a decade.
    Assisted suicide is legal with certain resrictions. Doctors prescribe a lethal drink that Pharmacies provide.
    Approximately 80 to 100 people a year chose this method to end their life. Most are highly educated and like being in control of their own life. I have heard all the comments posted on the topic many years ago.
    I am here to tell you it works well in Oregon with very little opposion existing today. It has been so successful that Washington State recently voted a similar law into existence as well. One day, in the not too distant future, Dr. Kevorkian will be considered a man with insight ahead of his time.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Plato101

    Kevorkian was not motivated by compassion, he had a life long fetish involving death. As an artist, he sometimes painted with his own blood, and had created pictures such as one of a child eating the flesh off a decomposing corpse. As an intern, he conducted "experiments" involving the photographing of the eyes of patients at the moment of their death, though what scientific value such "research" had is a mystery. He worked on experiments to transfuse blood from cadavers to live patients.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hashtagmosaic

    For anyone who has watched someone suffer with a terminal illness, particularly pancreatic, liver, and brain cancers, they likely harbor a different perspective on this debate. I applaud Kevorkian for his convictions, though I disagree with some of his criteria.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mark Yelka

    I found him inspiring.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Andrew

    Who cares what people do with their own lives? Kevorkian wasn't out cruising the streets looking for healthy teenagers to snuff out. He was helping individuals who were never going to be healthy again die under their own terms. Everyone dies, there is no escaping it. I really hope this service is available when my time comes.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Esa

    I understand that terminal illness is a horrible scenario for the patient and the loved ones. But why put the doctor in the middle of the issue, and make him/her responsible for one's decision to die? Then, what is the difference between suicide at home, and physician assisted suicide?

    June 3, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Corvus1

      Same reason you don't give yourself shots and do surgery on yourself?

      June 3, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • McGuffin

      Physicians have the right to transfer patients to another physicians' care; they wouldn't have to treat a patient requesting assisted suicide.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat

      He may have actually helped people who wanted out of their pain, but, listening to the man, I now realize he was so totally into himself and his ideas– cavalier as all hell! Not an ounce of compassion did I ever see in a Kevorkian interview. Not one. He was on a power trip. And that bothered me. He may have been on the right track, but, he just wanted to get the job done.. and go to the next. Very troublesome for people who basically believed in his principles. Very troublesome.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • evoc

      Rest in peace, Jack. You were a gentle man.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Esa

      Giving shots or doing a surgery is on different poles from physician assisted suicide. One promotes life, while the other takes away. And if Kevorkian beliefs had any amount of sense in improving quality of life, then he probably should have taken a visit to see the psychiatric patients who are mentally debilitiated as well. So how do you describe the life of a mentally challenged individual? In that case, every homeless guy who has no money or home to live in, and any lonely depressed individual, and any psychiatric patient who the world has shunned should have the "option" or the "freedom to die" just coz his/her life isnt right? since when does two wrongs make a right?

      June 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kidd

    You are my hero Jack.RIP

    June 3, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Zach

    At least he died while listening to Bach. Never knew anything about this man until i read the article. The patients wanted to commit suicide because of their terminal illness that lead to suffering, therefor they should be aloud to make the choice to end their life. I'm sure religion didn't help this controversial topic, it never does...

    June 3, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cass

    Kevorkian didn't save anyone. He murdered a bunch of disabled people and then claimed they were all teminally ill. The coroner's report proved Kevorkian a liar who picked on people with disabilities. Shame on Kevorkian and those who promote his lies and vicious attacks on disabled people.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frederick C. Lee

      What irritates me...
      ... Is that those who advocate Right to Life, are usually against Right to Die.
      And it's not a big assumption that you're also against a woman's Right to Choose.

      I suppose you believe it makes sense to prolong agony without any foreseeable relief at exorbitant costs.

      Hey: Dying is NATURAL . Let the terminally ill DIE WITH DIGNITY, WITHOUT PAIN.

      I solute Dr. Kevorkian for being non-politically-correct in his support & comfort of the terminally ill.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • CoMike

      He didn't go around looking for people to kill. Your post is idiotic. The terminally ill sought him out. They requested his assistance. You make him out to be a grim reaper walking down hospital hallways killing people at random. Learn the facts before you make any more ridiculous statements. People who know they are going to die don't want their last memories to be nothing but pain and suffering. They simply wish to die with a little respect and dignity.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gerry

      You are ignorant, I only hope you get a terminally ill disease when it is your turn to go, that makes you suffer and that no one is there to help you end the pain. Kevorkian never forced anyone...these ppl sought him ought.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • McGuffin

      What does "right to life" have to do with the right to choose how you die? A woman does not have a right to choose whether her baby lives or dies any more than she has a right to choose whether her neighbor lives or dies. It is another life, not some whim of a choice like whether to buy a stereo or not. The baby has no voice and should be protected by law (since terrible mothers apparently might be willing to kill their own child). People choosing assisted suicide have chosen to end their OWN life, not the life of another.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Greg

    Dr. Kevorkian was a true hero and a pioneer in medicine. He had the courage to do what doctors do EVERYDAY... but he included the patient in the decision and let them die with dignity and honor. He never stopped fighting for what was right, even when he lost his own freedom, when thrown into jail. He will be missed. It might take years for close minded people to realize how great he was... just wish he could have seen it in his own life. God Bless.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. super850

    MORE PAIN WHERE THEIR GOING... mark 9;43-44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Thou shall not kill, not even yourself.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • you idiot

      super850...you're a moron...nothing else, sweet and simple...a moron

      June 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gerry

      You religious fruit loop, with that logic than you must blame god (yes in lower case) for all the pain they put these individuals through?....ohhhh that's right you have the devil and the wrong doings of mankind to blame all the evil stuff on I forgot.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • really?

      You're an @$$ hat. I can quote Dr. Seuss, and it carries as much weight. Watch a loved one suffer months or years in excruciating pain from a terminal illness, then talk. Or not. I'd rather you didn't.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. J-Fo

    I agree that he was a hero and a brilliant individual. I don't believe that he murdered anyone. It's like saying that the McDonald's employee made you fat because you wanted the cheeseburger. He carried out wishes and helped end suffering.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. American Public

    Dr Kevorkian was more humane than any of those doctors who will plug you to machines and let you suffer til the end. RIP Jack. You were criticized but you always did the humane thing.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Kevorkian was about as humane as Hitler. They both killed those they deemed having lives unworthy of living.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • CoMike

      Bill, you're being a moron. Try reading up on the subject yourself rather than listening to condensed version on the 700 Club, and maybe you'll know what really happened and have an intelligent conversation on the matter.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. henry

    Jack Kevorkian had the nerve to stand up and say whats right, human beings treat terminally ill animals with more dignity then they do human beings themselves.....R I P Jack Kevorkian thanks for the courage to speak out.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danny

      If the Kster had any nerve he would have killed nondisabled people. That was his real mission, to promote the 'mercy' killing of anyone who expressed a wish to end it all. It didn't take nerve to pick on disabled people. It took a coward.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
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