Jack Kevorkian Dr Death Died at the age 83
Jack Kevorkian,who was known as Dr Death and admitted helping 130 people end their lives, has died. Kevorkian had been hospitalized with kidney and respiratory problems for several weeks at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. He was 83. Kevorkian was released from a Michigan prison in 2007 after serving eight years of a 10- to 25-year sentence for murder for a nationally televised fatal injection he gave in 1998 to a patient stricken with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
A jury convicted “Dr. Death” of second-degree murder in the case, dramatically ending a string of acquittals that had imbued Kevorkian with strident self-righteousness and transformed him into a symbol of the right-to-death movement.
His attorney and friend Mayer Morganroth, who for years led appeals to overturn Kevorkian’s conviction and efforts to release him from the prison, told The News this week that Kevorkian’s health was failing.
“He’s not doing real well at this point,” Morganroth said. “He is talking, but he’s mostly sleeping, trying to get his energy back.”
Friday morning Mayer Morganroth tells The Associated Press Kevorkian,the assisted suicide advocate has died at a Detroit-area hospital at the age of 83.
The Detroit News: The early years of Jack Kevorkian
Kevorkian was born in Pontiac in 1928, the son of Armenian refugees. Both of his parents lost family members in the Armenian massacres carried out by Turks during World War I.
His father was an autoworker who later owned an excavating company; his mother was a homemaker. In 1945, Kevorkian graduated with honors from Pontiac High School at age 17. He later graduated from the University of Michigan’s medical school in 1952 with a specialty in pathology, the study of death and disease.
During his internship at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Kevorkian said a woman dying of cancer helped spark his later work. In his 1991 book, “Prescription: Medicide, The Goodness of Planned Death,” he said the woman seemed “as though she were pleading for help and death at the same time.” The incident convinced him that physician-assisted suicide was ethical and proper.
His early work was provocative and controversial, presaging the battles to come.
In 1956, he wrote an article on his research and photographs of blood flow to retinas at the moment of death. The work first earned him the nickname “Dr. Death.”
In a presentation in Washington, D.C., two years later, Kevorkian called for medical experimentation on willing death row inmates. Officials at the University of Michigan, where he then worked, were appalled by the proposal.
Still, the experience hardly ended his interest in unconventional medicine.
From 1961 until 1966, Kevorkian occasionally transfused cadaver blood into living patients at Pontiac General Hospital. He wrote about it in a medical journal, which again thrust him briefly into the professional spotlight. He defended the practice by pointing out that Soviet doctors did the same during World War II to save wounded soldiers.
In 1970, Kevorkian began a decade as chief pathologist at Detroit’s Saratoga General Hospital. He retired from there and briefly moved to California, where he helped bankroll and produce a film adaptation of Handel’s “Messiah.”
After that project failed, Kevorkian returned to Michigan and increasingly focused on death rights in articles published in obscure medical journals.
Throughout his career, Kevorkian was an outspoken critic of medical convention. He dismissed the profession as “nothing other than a commercial business.”
In 1987, Kevorkian took a more public tack when he advertised in Metro Detroit newspapers offering “death counseling” services.
A year later, he published “The Last Fearsome Taboo: Medical Aspects of Planned Death” in the journal Medicine and Law. The article outlined Kevorkian’s vision for suicide clinics that would include medical experimentation on willing subjects.
In 1989, working in a Royal Oak apartment located above a former funeral home, Kevorkian finished his first model of the “Mercitron,” a device crafted from $30 in scrap parts. The machine was designed to anesthetize the patient, then stop their heart with chemical injections.
All he needed was a patient.