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Suicide Victim Not at Risk, Coroner Finds

<i> From Reuters</i>

A county medical official said Tuesday that a woman who died in Jack Kevorkian’s latest assisted-suicide case was in no danger of an early death from multiple sclerosis.

“The heart and lungs were like the ones of a teenage person,” said L. J. Dragovic, the Oakland County medical examiner.

Linda Henslee, 48, died Monday from carbon monoxide poisoning, said the medical examiner’s office, which ruled her death a homicide.

Geoffrey Fieger, the attorney for Kevorkian, said Monday that the retired pathologist was present at the woman’s death, making it the 27th acknowledged time Kevorkian was involved in such a case.

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Henslee, a former computer engineer from Beloit, Wis., had suffered from debilitating multiple sclerosis for 20 years, Fieger said. She was a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair, had a paralyzed shoulder, atrophied legs, bed sores and suffered from incontinence, he said.

Dragovic said Henslee showed signs of incontinence and had one bed sore on her back, but otherwise was in good condition for a woman of her age with the disease.

Patricia McDonald, executive director of the Michigan Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, took issue with Fieger’s characterization Monday that the disease is a fatal one.

McDonald said less than 1% of the estimated 350,000 people who have the disease in the United States die from it. Fewer than 10% die from complications of multiple sclerosis, which attacks the central nervous system, she said.

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