Episode 118: Jack Kevorkian: “Dr. Death”

This episode is brought to you by El Yucateco

On this episode of The Sofa King Podcast, we look at the fascinating life and legal battles of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, aka Dr. Death, the man responsible for assisting in the suicide of 130 “patients” in the span of only eight years. Kevorkian grew up as a smart but odd child, questioning Christianity and focusing intently on his studies more than social life. His family had escaped the Armenian genocide of 1915. Kevorkian graduated from University of Michigan medical school, and his fascination with macabre medical taboos started in the 1950’s.

What did he do that made all of his colleagues regularly fire him and distance themselves from his work? For one, while he was still an intern, he would get admitted into terminal patients’ rooms in an attempt to photograph their eyeballs at the exact moment of death. Second, he wrote a paper and advocated for “Terminal Human Experimentation” in which death row inmates would be experimented on and even dissected while they were still alive up until the exact moment of their death. Third, he transfused blood from corpses into living people, volunteers from the hospitals he worked at, including himself (and he contracted Hepatitis C in the process!).

All of these bizarre and grim medical experiments made him lose multiple jobs and move around the country; at his lowest point, he lived out of his 1968 VW bus (the same one he killed people in, and the same model Brent owns…). However, he finally got back into the medical profession as an advocate for assisted suicide. He built two machines, the Thanatron and the Mercitron that killed people using different toxic means, and for the next decade he battled the state of Michigan. He was arrested constantly for helping people die, and he refused to stop. He claimed it was everyone’s right to choose when to die, and he was the nation’s biggest advocate of assisted suicide.

However, his critics didn’t see eye to eye with him. The argued that many of his “victims” were not terminally ill, and even the famous Dr. Kübler-Ross battled with him over the ethics of his practices. What finally got him arrested? How did his Hepatitis C end up helping him in the long run? What is the Church of Euthanasia, and why are they so awesome? How did Kevorkian help to legalize assisted suicide in several states? Where do the Sofa Kings fall on the debate about assisted suicide? Listen, laugh, learn.

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