Jack Kevorkian was born on May 26, 1928 in Pontiac, MI. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School with a specialty in pathology in 1952. In 1970, Jack Kevorkian became the chief pathologist at the Saratoga General Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. An advertisement was placed in the Detroit papers in 1987, which described Jack Kevorkian as a “physician consultant” for death counseling. In 1989, Kevorkian invented the Thanatron, which translates from Greek to English as the “Death Machine.” The Thanatron was Kevorkian’s tool that he used in many physician-assisted suicides. The machine operated through the use of intravenous drip to administer various doses of fluids to facilitate the death of a patient. Typically, the first dose, which is administered by the patient, was a drug called thiopental. This drug acts as a sleeping agent that sends the patient’s body into a comatose state. Once the patient is asleep the lethal dose of potassium chloride is administered to stop the heart within minutes. The patient dies as a result of a heart attack.Jack Kevorkian has assisted in the suicide of at least 120 patients. In calculating the demographic data of these patients, I have concluded three different findings with respect to underlying patient illness, age and gender of the patients. All of these patients have suffered from a terminal or debilitating illness. The three highest incidents of illness among the 120 patients were cancer, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The highest incidents of the 120 physician-assisted suicides occurred in the age range of 40 to 60 years of age. Approximately seventy percent of Kevorkian’s patients were female and thirty percent were male.
As a result of Jack Kevorkian’s success in assisting in the suicide of these 120 patients, family members, law enforcement and the courts sought many legal inquiries. The state of Michigan, where most of the assisted suicides occurred, does not have a law against this practice. There have been several legal attempts to imposed criminal charges against Jack Kevorkian for his participation in these suicides. In June of 1990, Jack Kevorkian performed his first assisted suicide using the Thanatron. The patient was Janet Adkins, age 54, of Portland, Oregon. Adkins had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Murder charges were brought against Kevorkian as a result of his assistance in the death of Janet Adkins.