The Kevorkian Verdict

photo of Thomas Hyde


Kevorkian: This is July 1st, 1993 and we're in and we're at the home of Thomas Hyde and his wife, Heidi. It's 8:22 in the evening. I'm responding to a letter and follow up with a telephone call; a letter signed by Thomas and a call. And we're trying to discuss things, and his wife, Heidi.

And we're here for the first consultation to discuss the situation briefly. I also will have Tom sign a request. I want him to do that on video camera.

First of all, Tom, Heidi, has a disease which makes it difficult for him to speak, is that right?

Heidi: Correct.

Kevorkian: All right.

Heidi: His speech is almost unintelligible.

Kevorkian: Right. Then you tell us what the diagnosis is.

Heidi: Tom has been diagnosed on August 6th, 1992 with Ameotropic Lateral Sclerosis, AMS.

Kevorkian: And what was the date again?

Heidi: August 6, 1992.

Kevorkian: In other words, almost 11 months ago, about 11 months ago, not quite a year.

Heidi: Not quite a year.

Kevorkian: And that's when he was first diagnosed?

Heidi: That's when he was first diagnosed. He began being tested late in May.

Kevorkian: Where?

Heidi: Through the Mind(?) Clinic in Farmington Hills. At Boxford(?) Hospital. That's where he had his nerve and muscle biopsies done. He had his MRI's done through the Mind Clinic. Dr. Rosten was his doctor there. And Dr. Rosten was also the doctor that did diagnose him.

Kevorkian: Now, how long before he was diagnosed did he have symptoms? When did he start?

Heidi: When I heard him talk to his doctor they would just say, "That's out of the question." He says he can remember maybe February--

Kevorkian: February?

Heidi: Where he would get cold and his muscles were really affected by the cold air.

Kevorkian: He first noticed something wrong with his muscles then?

Heidi: Yeah.

Kevorkian: Never happened before that?

Heidi: No. ... (inaudible) I could see the gesticulations. When he would come home--it was almost funny at first. He would say, "Look at my muscles." And they would be constantly moving, rippling.

Kevorkian: Rippling. The muscles would be rippling.

Heidi: Yeah, gesticulating.

Kevorkian: Where? Mainly on the chest?

Heidi: It really was on the right side, which is his ... (inaudible) and it was right up in here. And then he--well, then it was ... and then a couple of weeks later we would be watching TV or something. He says, "Look at this. It's doing it again." And then it never stopped.

And then it began to be on the left side now. And his legs would shake uncontrollably. And when I say a tremor, like this, I can sit on his leg and I move up and down with it. And I am a healthy--I'm far from frail. And I can try to stop his leg, and I'd be moving like that.

Kevorkian: ... (inaudible)

Heidi: Yeah.

Kevorkian: And, now, that started in February, right?

Heidi: Yeah. Gesticulating. ... (inaudible) The cold has really affected him. It would make his muscles very stiff.

Kevorkian: And this was especially hard for him because we've seen pictures of him. He had a very strong physique. And he was a rock climber, a cliff climber--

Heidi: A tree climber.

Kevorkian: --a pole vaulter?

Heidi: Yeah. And it was very--I could see it. You know, it was not only something he was experiencing. But just that I could see the symptoms. I used to think he was a clod because he couldn't walk across the room with a cup of coffee. And it seemed like--but I had no idea what I was ... (inaudible) I feel so ashamed ... (inaudible) that I said all those things.

Kevorkian: That's the story of everybody's life. Okay, then. Then he entered the clinic at Ford Hospital, is that correct?

Heidi: He entered the clinic at Ford Hospital in January.

Kevorkian: Of '93?

Heidi: Yeah. We were wall diagnosed ... (inaudible) the disease before he started with the ALS of Michigan.

Kevorkian: And he was accepted for this special drug treatment, wasn't he?

Heidi: Well, they were going to--actually the manufacturer of the drug was going to be the people that were going to select the candidate. But the doctors and the staff felt that Tom had a strong--with his being so young with this disease--felt that he was going, his candidacy would be likely because of his age, him being stricken so young.

Kevorkian: His birthday is October, isn't it?

Heidi: October 1st.

Kevorkian: October 1st. And he had the onset of symptoms in February, when he was 29?

Heidi: Yeah.

Kevorkian: So he had the disease, then--

Heidi: And he was diagnosed when he was 29.

Kevorkian: Diagnosed when he was 29 years old. And now he's 30 and the disease has progressed rapidly in less than a year.

Heidi: Oh, yes.

Kevorkian: It will be a year in August.

Heidi: It progressed rapidly in the last three weeks.

Kevorkian: It will be a year next month.

Heidi: Yeah. It seems the more we get--the longer he has the disease the faster the progression is.

Kevorkian: I see.

Heidi: Before it was the slurring of speech. It was another sign that made us go to a doctor.

Kevorkian: When did that start, the slurring of speech?

Heidi: The slurring was in May.

Kevorkian: Of last year?

Heidi: We both say May because I was pregnant. I was in the hospital having a baby. And he stopped to get me a dinner and he had a drink, because they knew me. They bought him a drink ... (inaudible) baby.

And he came to the hospital and I accused him of being so drunk in front of my family. I said, "You came here drunk? How dare you in front of my family." And he said, "I had one cocktail." I said, "No, you didn't. You're lying. Listen to your speech. You can't even talk."

Kevorkian: And you feel bad about that.

Heidi: And my sisters were, "How dare you. You're in this hospital bearing a child and he goes out, you know, when he should be here with you, he goes out drinking."

Kevorkian: But unfairly condemned.

Heidi: You couldn't condemn anyone. If you didn't know he was sick, you would have called him a liar too. His speech would get slurred right away. I would say that probably in a matter of maybe three months after he was diagnosed, which would be September, October, November of '92, he was getting very hard to understand.

Kevorkian: Yeah. Did he get the special drug treatment?

Heidi: No.

Kevorkian: Why not?

Heidi: Well, he wouldn't be able to be part of the study now because he has respiratory problems. The disease, which we were explained--at his last visit at Henry Ford he stayed for two days because he had an episode of respiratory problem here. He couldn't breathe because the phlegm was in his throat.

Kevorkian: I notice he has some trouble swallowing right now.

Heidi: He can't--yeah. Oh, yeah.

Kevorkian: Can he eat solid food or does he stay on liquid?

Heidi: I try to keep it soft.

Kevorkian: Yeah, okay.

Heidi: I try very hard to keep it--but it doesn't matter. Tom will tell you he'll choke on his saliva.

Kevorkian: Yeah.

Heidi: So it doesn't matter. He'll choke on water.

Kevorkian: Yeah, that's known. Yes, that's right. Okay, so he didn't get the special treatment because of respiratory weakness.

Heidi: Yeah. He would be not a candidate because they don't know the side effects. So they were definitely ruling out people that had--where the ALS is beginning to affect their lungs, which is the onset of the end, which is when they recommended ... (inaudible), which to me is a sign there's nothing else the hospital or the doctors can do for you.

Kevorkian: Does Tom want to go into a hospice?

Heidi: He doesn't want to go into a hospice.

Kevorkian: Tom, do you want to go into a hospice?

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: Why not? What is your main reason?

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Heidi: Dignity.

Kevorkian: Dignity. Wants to maintain his dignity. And he feels that being dependent in a hospice is not--is that correct, Tom?

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Heidi: I mean, I need to ... (inaudible), I need to--

Kevorkian: We're going to have to show him ... (inaudible) a little bit in a while. Does he have control--do you have control of your bowel and bladder?

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Heidi: It's getting worse.

Kevorkian: ... (inaudible) He's experiencing some urgency with--becoming reflex almost.

Heidi: Yeah. And also that has been progressive. You can see that progressing too. He just can't get there soon enough.

Kevorkian: Tom, do you have any pain anywhere?

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Heidi: He has tense muscles.

Kevorkian: Where? Where?

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: All over?

Heidi: He gets it a lot when he yawns.

Kevorkian: I see.

Heidi: But he get them everywhere.

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: Biceps? Okay.

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: Triceps?

Thomas: Forearms.

Kevorkian: Forearms.

Thomas: Hands.

Kevorkian: Hands.

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: ... (inaudible)

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: Can you stick your tongue out? Can you focus in on that? Focus close in on his tongue. Stick it out. Show it gesticulating. That's quivering.

Heidi: Yeah.

Kevorkian: Quivering. Okay. Now, can you move your arms? I'm sorry to put you to all this strenuous effort. As far as you can. Okay. Don't go too far. Don't strain yourself. Can you stretch your fingers out? Okay. Can you make a fist now? The right arm is definitely weaker, isn't it?

Heidi: Yeah.

Kevorkian: Okay. Can you move your arms like this at all? Yeah. The deltoid. Okay. Don't strain too much now. Don't strain.

Heidi: Conserve your energy.

Kevorkian: Yeah. Yeah.

Heidi: You know, you're getting cramps.

Kevorkian: Now he's getting cramps, right? Okay. We're not going to go any further with a physical thing now. I just want to see you walk a little bit, try to walk a little bit for the record. That's all.

Well, Tom, what is it you wish? Tell me your wish in plain English.

Thomas: I want to end this. I want to--

Kevorkian: Take your time. Take your time.

Thomas: I want--die.

Heidi: Die.

Kevorkian: Die? I understand he first said, "I want to end this." Right? Okay. I am going to Heidi read something to you. I want you to understand it. And this is your request. First of all, has anyone that you know of--Heidi, anybody in this room, any relative of yours, ever tried to talk you into doing this?

Thomas: Oh, no.

Kevorkian: Is it your choice entirely, absolutely?

Thomas: My idea.

Heidi: His idea.

Kevorkian: Yours alone?

Heidi: Yes. He asked me, when he was in Florida ... (inaudible) visiting and he wanted me to get your address, I obtained the address ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: And he doesn't want hospice?

Heidi: He does not want to prolong--Tom and I communicate a lot better on ... that we read each other with our eyes.

Kevorkian: I understand.

Heidi: Tom is suffering so.

Kevorkian: I understand. I understand.

Heidi: And he wants to be free of this body. It's only a body. His soul will be free.

Kevorkian: Right. Right.

Heidi: ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: He's a free spirit trapped in this body.

Heidi: Yeah.

Kevorkian: It's going to be your choice, now. Understand that. No one is ever going to try to block you or talk you out of anything that you don't want. Don't worry about that. Okay? Now, I just want you to relax. You want to relax.

Heidi: His crying and laughing are uncontrollable.

Kevorkian: That's good.

Heidi: That's part of the disease.

Kevorkian: I want him to relax as much as possible. I don't want him to have any fears.

Heidi: Do you want me to ... (inaudible) What do you want me to do?

Kevorkian: Do you want to write something ... (inaudible) Okay. I'll get the piece of paper.

Heidi: Thank you.

Kevorkian: [Reading] "I feel like"--do you like the pen?

Heidi: Yeah.

Kevorkian: Why don't we leave it there.

Heidi: Sometimes I make him write ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: Do you like that pen? Okay, it's yours. He likes it. You know, if he can write this way so it is very legible. It's a good way to ... (inaudible)

[Laughter.] "I feel like the main character in"--is there more coming? [Laughter]

Heidi: ... (inaudible) have to get my head snipped off ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: I'm going to stop right here and see what he writes.

Oh, wait a minute. Carl told me about that. We'll discuss it later.

Heidi: ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: I know what he's writing. Carl told me Barker: the whole thing. I never read the book. I never saw it. It's an interesting thing. Carl, a friend of mine.

Heidi: He's been stating this--he describes his feelings ... (inaudible) occasionally. We talked about it. All four of us cried about it one night because the story is so heart wrenching.

Kevorkian: Nobody but Tom would really know how that character felt.

Heidi: That's right.

Kevorkian: We can't know.

Heidi: No. And I had never read book. But I cried when he was telling it. It made sense. He was telling on the typewriter because he can't speak, of course. Must read.

Kevorkian: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I know. I know about the book. A friend told me in detail about the book. He told me in detail. We will discuss it later.

He said, "I feel like the main character in the book Johnny Got His Gun ... (inaudible) Focus in on this right here.

Heidi: I'll tell you, the pen is good.

Kevorkian: We've got other ones at home. You got it? Okay. Now, Heidi, you have to read this to him.

Heidi: Okay.

Kevorkian: And let me write his name here. What was the initial ... (inaudible)

Heidi: "W."

Thomas: "W."

Heidi: Junior.

Kevorkian: Junior? Let's put the whole name down.

Heidi: Junior.

Kevorkian: Okay. Now, you have to read this to him. We bartered this out because we can't obtain the contract ... (inaudible) drugs. And this is what you've got to read. This is the request that --let's see if this is what Tom wants.

Heidi: Okay.

Kevorkian: Okay. You read it to him slowly so he understands everything.

Heidi: He understands ... (inaudible) fast or slow. But I'll read it slow.

Kevorkian: Okay.

Heidi: "I, Thomas W. Hyde, Jr., the undersigned, give my request of my own free will and without any reservations or extrinsic persuasion or duress, that my life of intolerable and interminable pain and/or suffering be ended in the most human, rapid and painless manner with the help of a competent medical professional. It is my understanding that I will end my life by breathing through a routine facial mask or plastic tent a lethal mixture of carbon monoxide and nitrogen gas. All details of procedures have been explained to me by the undersigned medical professional. And I am fully aware of the implications and the consequences of my voluntary carrying them out."

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: Did you understand that, Tom? We're going to go over more of the details off camera. We're going to go over the details.

Heidi: He understands that.

Kevorkian: Okay. If he ... (inaudible) he can sign one more thing here. I hate to put him through all these signatures. It's your pen. So be careful. It's your pen. [Laughter.] Right here, Tom. ... (inaudible)

And then be a witness, Heidi, okay?

Heidi: Yes. ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: Well, you're doing so well now. He must have had good penmanship earlier.

Heidi: That he did, honestly, for a man. And I have excellent penmanship. ... (inaudible) artistic ... (inaudible) And Tom has always ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: Even this isn't bad in his debilitating stage. He writes very well. Okay. And then I'll fill in the rest. ... (inaudible)

One other question I've got to ask. Tom, what is your religion?

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Heidi: Agnostic.

Kevorkian: Agnostic. In other words, you don't adhere to any organized religious doctrine or sect?

Thomas: None.

Kevorkian: None. And do you want any kind of religious counseling at all?

Thomas: No.

Kevorkian: None at all?

Thomas: No.

Kevorkian: Okay. None whatsoever?

Thomas: No.

Kevorkian: Okay. Is there anything else that you want to add to this or have Heidi tell us? Or, Heidi, is there anything you want to add before we conclude this discussion?

Thomas: ... (inaudible)

Heidi: I want Tom to be free.

Kevorkian: Okay.

Thomas: [Crying.]

Heidi: [Crying.] Every day it gets worse.

Kevorkian: We're here to help. Don't worry, Tom. You're not alone. You're not alone.

Neal, is there anything you wish to add?

Neal: We want to cover your fee and--

Kevorkian: Yeah. Okay. Well, see, there is no fee. You know that. There is no charge for this. Don't worry about money.

__: Also we would like to emphasize that at any time that you pull that ... (inaudible) you have the right to stop. Our feelings won't be hurt? We'll walk away happy if you don't do it or if you do do it. You have that right, you have that control. And ... (inaudible)

Kevorkian: That's right.

__: And if you decide that you don't want to go through with this, you can stop it at any time and walk away from it. We'll be just as happy.

Kevorkian: Absolutely. You can't hurt our feelings in any way. If you want to stop ... (inaudible) one minute before you reach for the thing, stop. It doesn't hurt anything. We can come back another day. Anything you want. You've got to understand, Tom. You are in control.

Heidi: This is the only thing that he has control over.

Kevorkian: That's right. He's got to have some control on his--nobody is going to deny or contradict or argue. Nobody. Okay? Not even so-called law.

Heidi: He wants control and this is the only control that he still has. To control his destiny, you know.

Kevorkian: I want you to relax as much as possible the time that's left. Try to enjoy yourself because you're going to get what you want. But relax and enjoy and we'll go over a ... (inaudible) details off camera. Okay?

Heidi: Okay

Kevorkian: All right. As it is now, what time is it?

__: 8:50.

Kevorkian: All right. This first session, then is completed at 8:50 on July 1st, 1993.


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