JACK KEVORKIAN Biography - Famous Medicine & health care related men and women


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Jack Kevorkian, M.D. (born Pontiac, Michigan, May 29, 1928), also known as "Dr.             
Death" is a controversial American pathologist. He is most noted for publicly               
championing a terminal patient's "right to die" and claims to have assisted at               
least 130 patients to that end. He is famous for his quote "dying is not a crime."           
Imprisoned in 1999, he is currently serving out a 10 to 25 year prison sentence             
for second-degree murder in the 1998 poisoning of Thomas Youk, 52, of Oakland               
County, Michigan. He will be paroled in Michigan in June 2007.                               
Kevorkian started advertising in Detroit papers in 1987 as a physician                       
consultant for "death counseling." Between 1990 and 1998, Kevorkian assisted in             
the suicide of nearly one hundred terminally ill people, according to his lawyer             
Geoffrey Fieger. In each of these cases, the individuals themselves took the                 
final action which resulted in their own deaths: voluntary euthanasia. Dr.                   
Kevorkian allegedly assisted only by attaching the individual to a device that               
he had made. The individual then pushed a button which released the drugs or                 
chemicals that would end his or her own life. Two deaths were assisted by means             
of a device which employed a needle and delivered the euthanizing drugs                     
mechanically through an IV. Kevorkian called it a "Thanatron" (death machine).               
Other patients were assisted by a device which employed a gas mask fed by a                 
canister of carbon monoxide which was called "Mercitron" (mercy machine). This               
became necessary because Kevorkian's medical license had been revoked after the             
first two deaths, and he could no longer get the substances required for "Thanatron".       
On the November 24, 1998 broadcast of 60 Minutes, Kevorkian allowed the airing               
of a videotape he had made on September 17, 1998, which featured the voluntary               
euthanasia of Thomas Youk, an adult male with full decisional capacity who was               
in the final stages of ALS. After Youk provided his fully-informed consent on               
September 17, 1998, Kevorkian administered a lethal injection. This was novel to             
other patients as Kevorkian administered the injection himself as opposed to                 
having Youk complete the process. This incited the district attorney to bring               
murder charges against him, claiming that Kevorkian single-handedly caused the               
death. Kevorkian filmed the procedure and the death and submitted it for                     
broadcast on "60 Minutes."                                                                   
During much of this period, Kevorkian was represented by attorney Geoffrey                   
Conviction and imprisonment                                                                 
Kevorkian was tried numerous times over the years for assisting in suicides.                 
Many of these trials took place in Oakland County, Michigan. In every instance               
prior to the Thomas Youk case, Kevorkian was acquitted.                                     
Kevorkian was even beginning to gain some public support for his cause, as is               
evidenced by the defeat of Oakland County prosecutor Richard Thompson to David               
Gorcyca in the Republican primary. The result of the political election was                 
attributed, in part, to the declining public support from the prosecution of                 
Kevorkian and its associated legal expenses.                                                 
Kevorkian also demonstrated a flair for dramatic publicity stunts at this time,             
showing up to one trial in a powdered wig and protesting an incarceration                   
pursuant to another trial by staging a hunger strike. He also wore a placard                 
challenging the Oakland County prosecutor to bring him to trial for the death of             
On March 26, 1999, Kevorkian was charged with second-degree homicide and also               
for the delivery of a controlled substance (administering a lethal injection to             
Thomas Youk). Unlike the prior trials involving an area of law in flux (assisted             
suicide), the law of homicide is relatively fixed and routine. Kevorkian,                   
however, discharged his attorneys and proceeded through the trial pro se (representing       
himself). The judge ordered a criminal defense attorney to remain available at               
trial for information and advice. Inexperienced in law and persisting in his                 
efforts to appear pro se, Kevorkian encountered great difficulty in presenting               
his evidence and arguments.                                                                 
The Michigan jury found Kevorkian guilty of second-degree homicide. It was                   
proven that he had directly killed a person because his patient was not                     
physically able to kill himself. He is currently in prison in Coldwater,                     
Michigan, serving a 10-to-25-year sentence.                                                 
In the course of the various proceedings, Kevorkian made statements under oath               
and to the press that he considered it his duty to assist persons in their death.           
He also indicated under oath that because he thought laws to the contrary were               
archaic and unjust, he would persist in civil disobedience, even under threat of             
criminal punishment. Future intent to commit crimes, of course, is an element               
courts and parole boards may consider in deciding whether to grant a convicted               
person relief. Since his conviction (and subsequent losses on appeal), Kevorkian             
has been denied parole repeatedly.                                                           
In an MSNBC interview aired on September 29, 2005, Kevorkian said that if he                 
were granted parole, he would not resume directly helping people die and would               
restrict himself to campaigning to have the law changed. On December 22, 2005,               
Kevorkian was denied parole by a board on the count of 7-2 recommending not to               
give parole.                                                                                 
In a recent interview in ABC News, Kevorkian's lawyer stated that Kevorkian is               
terminally ill with Hepatitis C, which he contracted during research into blood             
transfusions and is expected to pass away within a year. Kevorkian had applied               
for a pardon, parole, or commutation by the parole board or Governor Jennifer               
Granholm, and on December 13, 2006 it was announced that he would be paroled on             
June 1, 2007.