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The Kevorkian Verdict


photo of the thanatron
He called the machine the Thanatron - 'death machine' in Greek.

It was devised so that the patient could pull the trigger.

It started with an intravenous drip of saline solution. Then the patient would press a button starting a device which stopped the saline solution and started releasing a drug of thiopental with a 60-second timer. This would put the patient into a deep coma.

Finally, the timer's click would begin a lethal dose of potassium chloride which, in minutes, would stop the heart. The patient would die of a heart attack while asleep.

The Thanatron was made from odd bits and pieces of household tools and toy parts, magnets and electrical switches. It had an electric clock motor with pulley axle, and a chain and two coils acting as electric bar magnets.

Kevorkian showed it off, including an appearance on the "Donahue" show. He called it "dignified, humane and painless and the patient can do it in the comfort of their own home at any time they want."

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