Renowned doctor Ezekiel Emanuel says 75 is good age to die

Ezekiel Emanuel, at age 57, has an unusual ambition — he wants to die when he is 75. In fact, he believes we would be doing society and loved ones a favour by doing the same.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is one of the most renowned and esteemed physicians in the United States, but he thinks medical science is prolonging our lives too far. (Candace diCarlo)

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel says 75 is a good age for him to die. In fact, he believes we would be doing society and loved ones a favour by doing the same.

"A good life is not just about stacking up the years and living as long as possible. People need to focus on quality of life," he says. "Setting an actual date for a good time to die helps you focus on what is important in your life."

Emanuel is is one of the most renowned physicians in the United States. A top oncologist, he is currently chair of medical bioethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. He has received dozens of awards from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society.

The Sunday Edition

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Now 57 years old, Emanuel is enjoying a successful, active life. He recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with his two nephews. He doesn't have a terminal illness and he has no plans to commit suicide. 

In fact, he opposes physician-assisted suicide, and instead is a proponent of simply allowing the body to age naturally.

He says when he reaches 75, he will refuse all tests and treatments, including the blood pressure medication he takes now.

"I'm not suggesting people kill themselves at 75 but, rather, let nature take its course."

It's a controversial stance, but one that resonates with some in an age when medical science can prolong life, but often at the cost of quality of life. 

Listen to Ezekiel Emanuel's full interview with CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition.


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