Assisted Suicide Crusader Jack Kevorkian Hospitalized

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 19, 2011   |   6:20PM   |   Detroit, MI

Jack Kevorkian, the infamous assisted suicide advocate who served years in prison for killing a disabled man on national television, has been hospitalized with kidney problems and pneumonia.

His attorney informed the Detroit News that he was rushed to William Beaumont Hospital in suburban Detroit, Michigan Wednesday night after reportedly feeling weak. Mayer Morganroth, his longtime attorney, told the newspaper Kevorkian is not in “grave danger,” but indicated his health is poor.

“He’s not 100 percent, but he’s getting better,” Morganroth said, and told the newspaper that Kevorkian is expected to eventually return to his apartment where he lives alone.

He said Kevorkian was reluctant to go to the hospital but is suffering from kidney problems and pneumonia that comes with his advancing age, as he turns 83 next week. Morganroth said he expected to stay in the hospital for a few days.

As far back as December 2005, Morganroth explained how prison cause Kevorkian’s health to deteriorate quickly, saying “it now appears that the Hepatitis C Dr. Kevorkian contacted while testing blood transfusions given to American soldiers during Vietnam is attacking his liver.” Morganroth also said Kevorkian suffers from dangerously high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, temporal arteritis, peripheral arthritis, adrenal insufficiency, chronic pulmonary obstruction disease and cataracts.

Kevorkian was convicted in April 1999 of killing Thomas Youk, a Detroit-area man with Lou Gehrig’s disease whose death was shown on the CBS television show “60 Minutes.” He argued the murder was a euthanasia or mercy killing, but was sentenced for 10 to 25 years in prison. He was released in 2007.

Last year Kevorkian told CNN that he has no regrets about killing more than 100 people in assisted suicides. He also told medical correspondent and physician Sanjay Gupta that he regrets his birth.

“Let me tell you something,” Kevorkian said before Gupta could begin the interview. “Is that what this is about — you want to know how I really feel, what makes me tick? I have no regrets, none whatsoever.”

Gupta still had not asked a single question when Kevorkian interjected: “Sanjay, you want to know the single worst moment of my life?”

“The single worst moment of my life… was the moment I was born,” Kevorkian told the CNN interviewer.

Gupta admits he was taken aback by the conversation.

“There haven’t been many times when I have been at a loss for words when conducting an interview as a medical reporter. This was one of those moments,” he said. “It was windy outside, but it was also over 90 degrees in sunny Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was now sweating, and he was … well, cold.”

In the interview, Kevorkian told CNN he doesn’t earn any money from the recent movie starring Al Pacino that bears his name and was shown on HBO. Gupta says Kevorkian, “not surprisingly” advocates assisted suicide — or as the former pathologist calls it, a “medical procedure” called “patholysis.”