Jacob “Jack” Kevorkian was an American pathologist who was a vocal proponent of euthanasia and assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. He became well-known for assisting several patients in committing suicide and advocating for terminally ill patients’ ‘right to die.’ He earned the moniker “Dr.Death” due to his unconventional views on death and his role in facilitating the physician-assisted suicide of over 100 patients. Kevorkian was always an outspoken physician, well-known for his contentious views on death. Earlier in his career, he proposed performing medical experiments on death-row inmates, a proposal that drew widespread opposition. He had also successfully experimented with transfusing blood from recently deceased patients into living patients, but this concept was also rejected. Long a proponent of euthanasia, he publicized his “death counseling” services and wrote articles expressing his views on the subject. He also invented euthanasia devices such as the “Thanatron” and “Mercitron” to end patients’ suffering humanely. He had been arrested and tried numerous times for murder and assisting suicides, but nothing could deter this crusader from advocating for his patients’ right to die; he remained a zealous proponent of euthanasia until his death. He was a complex individual who, in addition to being a physician, was also a jazz musician and painter.
Childhood & Adolescence
Kevorkian was born in Armenia as the middle child of Levon and Santenig Kevorkian. His father worked in a foundry for automobiles. He was the brother of two sisters.
His parents were devout Christians who required their children to attend Sunday school on a regular basis. He questioned his parents’ beliefs as a child and stopped attending church altogether at the age of 12.
He was involved in artistic activities at school and was a skeptic who engaged in vigorous debates with teachers about almost everything. He taught himself Japanese and German.
He graduated from Pontiac Central High School with honors in 1945. He initially pursued a career as an engineer and enrolled at the University of Michigan’s College Of Engineering. Within a few months, however, his interests shifted to biology.
He was admitted to medical school and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1952 with a degree in medicine, specializing in anatomical and clinical pathology.
Career of Jack
His professional career began in 1953, with the outbreak of the Korean War, and he served as a medical officer in the United States army for 15 months, spending time in Korea and Colorado.
While completing his residency at the University of Michigan, he developed an interest in the concepts of death and dying. He used to photograph dying patients’ eyes in order to record the precise moment of death.
In 1958-1959, he published a paper advocating for what he termed “terminal human experimentation,” in which he proposed that prisoners on death row be used for medical experimentation while still alive. Additionally, he suggested that organs could be harvested from freshly executed inmates and transplanted into sick patients.
He was forced to leave the University of Michigan when he was unable to secure funding for his ideas. He completed his internship at Pontiac General Hospital, where he successfully transfused blood from recently deceased patients into living patients.
He spent the 1960s and 1970s as a pathologist at various hospitals before opening his own clinic in Detroit. He began to concentrate more on what would become his specialty: euthanasia.
He wrote extensively in the 1980s on the subject of euthanasia and its ethical implications. In 1987, he advertised in newspapers, offering his services as “death counseling.”
In 1990, he assisted in the suicide of Janet Adkins, a 54-year-old woman diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He was arrested and charged with murder, but the charges were later dropped for legal reasons.
Between 1990 and 1998, Kevorkian was alleged to have assisted in the deaths of 130 terminally ill and suffering patients. He had created self-administered euthanasia devices that patients could use to commit suicide. He was arrested numerous times for murder but was never convicted because the patients took the final action.
In 1998, he permitted the airing of a video he had shot of Thomas Youk’s voluntary euthanasia due to a painful and debilitating disease. In this case, Kevorkian administered the lethal dose to the patient himself.
He faced murder charges and was convicted of second-degree homicide. He was sentenced to ten to twenty-five years in prison.
He was released on parole in 2007 for good behavior and health reasons after serving eight years in prison. The parole was conditional on his not assisting anyone else in dying or providing “death counseling.”
Following his release, Kevorkian lectured at a number of universities on a variety of subjects, including euthanasia, politics, and the criminal justice system. Additionally, he appeared on television to discuss health care reform.
Works of Significant Value
As a proponent of euthanasia to relieve terminally ill patients of physical pain and agony, Kevorkian shed light on the contentious issue of patients’ ‘right to die’ when there is no hope of recovery and their pain and suffering cannot be alleviated by medication or therapy.
He invented the “Thanatron” and “Mercitron” euthanasia kits, which allowed people who requested voluntary euthanasia to die in a painless and peaceful manner.
Personal History and Endowment
He never married or had romantic relationships because he believed they would take him away from his life’s purpose.
He was afflicted with hepatitis C and kidney disease for a long period of time and was later diagnosed with liver cancer. He was 83 years old when he died on 3 June 2011.
Based on his life and works, Barry Levinson directed the 2010 television film ‘You Don’t Know Jack’. The film featured Al Pacino as Jack Kevorkian.
Estimated Net Worth
Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s net worth was $100,000 at the time of his death. While this may not appear to be a large net worth for a celebrity, Kevorkian was not your average celebrity.
Rather than making his fortune in sports or entertainment, Kevorkian first gained prominence as a result of his contentious advocacy for assisted suicide.
He was also an oil painter known for his grotesque and macabre images, which he occasionally painted with his own blood.
He had released limited editions of an album titled ‘A Very Still Life’ in 1997 as a jazz musician.He was politically engaged and unsuccessfully ran for the United States House of Representatives in 2008 in Michigan.