The Death of Martha Ruwart

By the time she died, Martha Ruwart--an athletic, a blue-eyed blond San Diegan--weighed just 80 pounds. Intestinal cancer blocked her digestive system and death was just weeks away.

Ruwart’s Kevorkian-assisted death last month might have made an important social statement, but that wasn’t her intent.

According to Mary Ruwart, who cared for her 40-year-old sister in the last months of her life, “Martie was a person for whom Dr. Kevorkian really was the only option . . . She couldn’t overdose because nothing would stay in her stomach--she couldn’t even keep water down.

“She would have preferred some type of lethal drug, to go quietly, privately. (But) she didn’t have enough morphine patches (to kill herself) and when she asked her doctor for help, he simply refused,” says Mary Ruwart.


The family contacted Kevorkian at the request of Martha, a computer programmer. By dying the way she did, says her sister, “Martie contributed in a lot of ways to our peace of mind. But it seems she said something more important to society than she could ever have imagined . . . .”