Medic Nicknamed Dr Death Helped At Least 130 People Kill Themselves Before He Was Convicted Of Murder
A medic who was nicknamed Dr Death helped 130 people to kill themselves, before being eventually convicted of murder.
Murad Jacob "Jack" Kevorkian was an American pathologist, who was also a supporter of euthanasia.
Having believed in assisted suicide as a method for people to end their own life, he created a machine that would act as a euthanasia device.
It was called a 'Thanatron' and was eerily named after the Greek demon, Thanatos.
The device worked by pushing a button which delivered euthanising drugs through an IV. Three canisters were mounted on a metal frame, which were then mechanically administered.
The bottles each had a syringe that connected up to an IV line in the patient's arm. One had saline, one had a barbiturate that sent them to sleep.
The final one had a lethal combination of potassium chloride, which stopped the heart straight away, and pancuronium bromide. The last chemical is a paralytic medication which is used to prevent spasms during the process of dying.
Kevorkian was tried four times between May 1994 and June 1996 for assisting suicide. He was acquitted three times, with the fourth trial ending in a mistrial.
The trials actually worked to publicise his ideas.
In 1998, Kevorkian allowed CBS News to air a tape he made of a man who was going through voluntary euthanasia.
Thomas Youk, 53, was going through the final stages of Lou Gehrig's disease - more widely known as motor neurone disease.
Youk is said to have made an informed decision, with Kevorkian administering the lethal injection for him. This was significant because his previous clients had done the process himself.
In the tape, he told authorities to try to convict him, with Youk's own family saying the injection was humane, not murder.
He went on to be charged with second-degree murder three days after it aired.
Because his medical licence was revoked eight years before, he wasn't legally allowed to supply controlled substances. The law on homicide is fairly rigid, and unlike his earlier trials, the issue wasn't about the ethics of assisted suicide.
He tried to represent himself, but struggled with areas of the law. After a two-day trial, he was found guilty of second-degree homicide by a Michigan jury.
He was sent to prison in 1999, and was finally granted parole in 2007. He died from complications that were thought to have been caused by Hepatitis C, which he contracted while researching blood transfusions in the 1960s.
Kevorkian died in 2011.
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