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. stemcell

    @Carl "Has gone to Heaven or Hell?" Answer: Neither. What your referring to is fairy tales.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Your belief system must be very depressing

      June 3, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Fairy tales – That's your opinion.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • christopher

      People like you never stop to think about the possibility that it is not a fairy tale and then you wind up before the God you never believed in anyways without any defense for your wretched existence on earth. Imagine that it's not a fairy tale for a minute. What would you tell God when you meet him face to face and HE holds the keys to your eternity?

      June 3, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil E. Drifter

      "you're," smartypants.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. Roxanne

    Rest In Peace good Doctor.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • R

      Good Doctor and Good Human being. I am sad today for him. Feel like humanity lost another Gandhi.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. Name*Dr Paul jacobs

    RIP Jack – you helped many end their lives with dignity & without pain, while others acused you of lacking sympathy. You were a saint to those who found no relief in conventional medicine & Ethics.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. Brian

    Kevorkian gained famed for his views and actions in regards to assisted suicide, but was a brilliant educator in the field of forensic science. He is most noted for his theories on the estimation on time of death from the eyes.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    RIP to a pioneer. Thank you for all of the people that you took assisted to take out of suffering and allowed to maintain their dignity, even in death. I do not agree with suicude at all. It is against my religion. My religion also calls for compassion though. Why make a person suffer any longer than they have too is the question he brought to the front of our minds. They dont have to is what he told the world.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bob Weaver

    Dr. Kevorkian helped a lot of people, he should be considered a hero.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    "suffered a pulmonary thrombosis when a blood clot from his leg broke free and lodged in his heart" someone might want to check up on this – a pulmonary thrombosis is in the great vessels of the lung, not in the heart

    June 3, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • christopher

      A clot in a vessel wouldn't likely cause death. This was an arterial clot likely in the right chamber of the heart where it leads to the lung artery. In that particular area, even though it is in the heart technically the term pulomonary thrombosis or pulmonary embolism is used regardless. Just one of those "in between" areas that could be defined from a cardiovascular standpoint or a pulminary standpoint. Of course that's just my assumption.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Saga

      Pulmonary Artery... http://biology.about.com/od/anatomy/ss/pulmonary_artery.htm ...also attaches to the heart sweetheart.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • WHy

      i'm no fancy big city doctor, but technically all blood vessels are attached to the heart

      June 3, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. thinking_lib

    Many see Kevorkian only in terms of suicide, but what he truly fought for was the inalienable right of self-determination. A day will come when the majority will see him as ahead of his time.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. christopher

    a good man. A compassionate man. A man the world could use more like. And unfortunately he is gone.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. NFL FAN

    Dr. Kevorkian was a man with the courage to help those who had a right to leave this world when they were ready to do so, in a peaceful and merciful way. We are not asked if we want to be born into this world; we should be able to choose to leave when we want.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. Greg

    Ironic that it wasn't an assisted suicide.

    Kevorkian was a courageous man. I'll give him that.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • TenInchFryingPan

      You have no idea what the word 'ironic' means, do you?

      June 3, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • christopher

      I think ironic would be the term to use if it WAS an assisted suicide.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • WHy

      the use of words and phrases in ways other than their literary meaning. now that's irony!

      June 3, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bill

    He helped a lot of folks end their lives peacefully, without pain, with diginity, and without a huge medical bill to a hospital that the next of kin would have been stuck with.

    I hope this option is available to me when the time comes.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • christopher

      next of kin doesn't get stuck with medical bills unless the next of kin is a legal guardian or parent of the patient. If your dad dies you don't get stuck paying his bills. That's not the way things work. Why in the world do people think that a persons debt is passed on when they die? That's their problem and their problem alone. When they die the estate (if there is one) will be forfeited but if that doesn't cover the price of the debt then it's the debtors problem.

      June 3, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. Wicket

    RIP doctor, and thanks for your good work and kind courage.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. hemnebob

    he did alot for humanity. risked his life allowing others to die with dignity.

    may he rest in peace.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. don

    jack people might call you murderer. but you have helped millions in pain.

    June 3, 2011 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Christopher


      June 3, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Cathy W

      Well, it could be millions – some day – if you count the future dying folks who might be able to die with dignity due to the efforts of Dr. K.

      June 3, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
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