Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the controversial assisted suicide advocate, has died at a Detroit-area hospital at the age of 83.
Kevorkian's attorney and friend, Mayer Morganroth, told The Associated Press that he died early Friday morning at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, where Kevorkian had been hospitalized for kidney and respiratory problems.
"He says nurses played classical music by Kevorkian's favorite, Johann Sebastian Bach, before he died," the AP reports.
An official cause of Kevorkian's death is not yet known.
Kevorkian, a proponent of "right-to-die" legislation, earned the nickname "Doctor Death" after a string of assisted suicides in the 1990s.
He was released from a Michigan prison in 2007 after serving eight years of a 10 to 15-year sentence for second-degree murder. (Kevorkian was acquitted in three earlier trials; a fourth ended in a mistrial.)
In the 1999 case, Kevorkian administered a deadly combination of drugs to Thomas Youk, who was suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, the devastating neurodegenerative disease that can lead to paralysis. It was captured on video and broadcast on "60 Minutes."
"It's not necessarily murder," Kevorkian told Mike Wallace in an interview. "But it doesn't bother me what you call it. I know what it is."
Kevorkian, who was trained as medical pathologist but stripped of his medical license, admitted to being present in at least 130 suicides of terminally ill patients between 1990 and 1999. He also developed a suicide machine, which according to WIRED, was essentially an automated drip hooked up to an IV needle that patients could personally trigger.
Many groups and individuals were vehement in their opposition to Kevorkian and his views. In 1995, the American Medical Association called him a "reckless instrument of death" who "poses a great threat to the public," The New York Times reports.
But others hailed Kevorkian as a hero.
"I think that Dr. Kevorkian was a man who sought out humanity," said Frank Kavanaugh, a member of the board of directors of the Final Exit Network, a non-profit and right-to-die organization. "He was a very controversial figure, but I think even critics would agree that because of that, hospice care has really boomed in the United States."
Kevorkian's attorney told the Detroit Free Press that he was present at the time of his death, as was his niece.
"It was peaceful," he told the paper. "He didn't feel a thing."
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