August 20, 1996 in Nation/World

Doctor Says Patient Aided By Kevorkian Wasn’t Sick But Associates Say Woman Was In ‘Extreme State Of Suffering’

New York Times

The medical examiner here and associates of Dr. Jack Kevorkian sharply clashed again Monday over the latest suicide the doctor attended.

The medical examiner, Dr. Ljubisa J. Dragovic, said there was no indication that the patient, Judith Curren, 42, had a disease.

But Janet Good, who screens people asking Kevorkian to assist them in what he calls patholysis, or physician assisted suicide, responded that Curren was “in an extreme state of suffering.”

The medical examiner said in an interview that preliminary findings showed the only thing wrong with Curren was that she was grossly overweight. “I think this one was a tragedy,” he said. “I have no doubt she was tired. When someone is 260 pounds, you easily get tired. When someone is depressed, you get tired.” Curren was 5-foot-1.

Good, who who herself is terminally ill with pancreatic cancer, responded: “I have seen many of these patients and would-be patients, and I’ve had my doubts about many of them. But this one - if she had come to my door and asked me to help her and I could have done it, I would have, myself.

“She was incontinent, she couldn’t control her bowels, she was in a wheelchair, she was in obvious pain, and she was in anguish at not being able to do anything for her two little daughters.

Geoffrey Fieger, the longtime lawyer and spokesman for Kevorkian, also answered the medical examiner, saying: “Make sure you quote me right on this: he is a liar and a fanatical religious nut. He lies about all of Jack’s patients. He rules them all homicides and says none of them are sick. What he can’t stand is that he has lost.

“The people see through his lies, and they don’t care. Can’t he read the election returns?”

He was referring to the Republican primary Aug. 6 in which Oakland County prosecutor Richard Thompson was solidly defeated by a young opponent who said he would not prosecute Kevorkian, who has been acquitted of suicide assistance charges five times.

Dr. Dragovic, unlike other Michigan medical examiners in counties where Kevorkian suicides have occurred, has ruled them homicides.

Curren suffered from fibromyalgia, a painful nerve and muscle disease, chronic fatigue syndrome and other opportunistic ailments that produced in her “funguses that attacked the brain and other AIDS-like symptoms.”

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