Jacob “Jack” Kevorkian was born in Pontiac, Michigan, to Armenian immigrants. In 1952 he graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.
In the 1980s, Kevorkian wrote a series of articles for the German journal Medicine and Law that laid out his thinking on the ethics of euthanasia. In June 1990, Dr Kevorkian allowed a terminally ill woman by the name of Janet Adkins to use his “suicide machine”.
The crude but effective device allowed people to give themselves a controlled dose of fatal drugs.
Over the next few years, Kevorkian was involved in more than 100 assisted suicides. He had his medical license revoked and was arrested and tried on four occasions. But he escaped conviction, often winning praise for his compassion.
Then, in 1998, one of the suicides was taped and shown on American television on 60 Minutes. Kevorkian (or “Doctor Death” as he became known) was charged with second-degree murder and the delivery of a controlled substance.
After a two-day trial, Kevorkian was found guilty and sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison. He was paroled for good behaviour on 1 June 2007, having spent eight years and two and a half months in prison.
Kevorkian was hospitalised with kidney problems and pneumonia on 18 May 2011. His condition grew rapidly worse, and he died from a thrombosis on 3 June 2011- eight days after his 83rd birthday – at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.