Dr. Kevorkian Transfused Blood From The Dead To The Living
Dr. Jack Kevorkian famously advocated for euthanasia. He personally euthanized many patients—130, according to Kevorkian himself—with one case resulting in his getting convicted and imprisoned for murder. But euthanasia was actually one of the less creepy obsessions this doctor had.
The man had a long fascination with death, rather than a consistent career fighting to relieve suffering. Early on, he photographed corpses' pupils, trying to use this data to better pinpoint exactly when death occurs. Then he moved on to studying people on death row. He wanted to vivisect criminals (no one let him). He also wanted to perform experiments on death row inmates, including fatal experiments, reasoning that they were going to die anyway, so we might as well get some unique data. It was actually this preoccupation with death row, not his later time with euthanasia, that first earned him the nickname “Dr. Death.”
Then came his next project. Jack Kevorkian wanted to inject people with blood he’d taken from corpses. Blood does not go bad as soon as someone dies, he noted. In fact, corpse blood remains good for longer than conventional blood from living donors. Blood tends to clot, so hospitals have to add chemicals to donor blood to keep it good and slippery, but death stops blood from clotting as much (or, the blood clots, then quickly unclots).
The Soviets had previously had some success taking corpses’ blood, since they’d always seen every part of you as the property of the state. Kevorkian now tried replicating those experiments, and you can read his paper even today. He describes, for example, one patient who was uncontrollably bleeding from her ass, and he gave her a bunch of blood from a man’s corpse, with no ill effects.
We’ve been describing corpse transfusions as macabre. You might question, however, how this is any more creepy than transplanting organs from corpses. The answer: It really isn’t. But unlike organs, blood is more easily sourced from living people than from the dead, leaving little reason to ever turn to corpses. Kevorkian suggested this would be most useful on the battlefield, as the Vietnam War raged while he was conducting these experiments, but the military managed blood transfusions just fine. They had so much blood in Vietnam from living donors, more than half went to waste.
Jack continued his experiments a little longer, then his corpse blood gave one of his patients hepatitis. His hospital fired him, and Jack Kevorkian had to move on to other pursuits.
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