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BABY ER : The Heroic Doctors and Nurses Who Perform Medicine's Tiniest Miracles Hardcover – November 28, 2000


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BABY ER : The Heroic Doctors and Nurses Who Perform Medicine's Tiniest Miracles + Fragile Beginnings: Discoveries and Triumphs in the Newborn ICU (Harvard Health Publications Book)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (November 28, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068486410X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684864105
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,467,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Humes (Mean Justice; etc.) spent a year observing life inside the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach, Calif. In this heart-stopping account of medical prowess, triumph and tragedy, Humes writes about 11 critically ill premature babies (seven of whom survive). According to the author, premature births are on the rise for a number of reasons, including the wide use of fertility treatments, which have resulted in many more high-risk premature multiple births. Many premature births, however, are unanticipated; in some cases, it is unclear why they occur, while in others, a mother's drug addiction or undetected genetic disorder plays a role. The author portrays both the commitment and skill of the medical professionals who perform technologically advanced surgical and treatment miracles on newborns who often cannot eat or breathe on their own, singling out the indispensable role of the overworked and underpaid neonatal nurses, who provide not only physical care to infants, but also emotional support to the parents. Humes is also clear about the economic realities of neonatology, "a growth business"Awhich he attributes to insurance companies' fear of denying coverage in the face of negative publicity and huge public support for this special and specialized area of medicineAand NICUs' resulting profitability, "which is why they are being scarfed up by Wall Street medical conglomerates." Readers who are drawn to tales of medical emergencies and victories will take to this title. There will be a 20-city radio satellite tour and local publicity in southern California, where the author resides. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

By concentrating on infants in the ER, Humes adds uniquely to the literature on that most emotional of medical theaters. Humes' daughter was in the ER for "seven terrible days," and what he saw and felt moved him to write about the doctors, nurses, parents, and children who come to a baby ER--specifically, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Miller Children's Hospital, Long Beach, California. Miller's NICU offers two major features: a new, "step-down" arrangement, in which babies can be moved to a less intensive area of the NICU when they become stronger, and an administrative arrangement controlled by doctors. Humes describes the varied NICU experiences of several babies and their parents; some end happily, some don't. His accounts of the relationships between parents, nurses (the backbone of the staff), and physicians are empathetic and never soap-operatic. The people he portrays are real, and Humes' treatment makes them appealing. Meanwhile, the administrative problems and takeover pressures he also portrays provide lessons in contemporary medicine, good and bad. William Beatty
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

QUICK STORY: A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, Edward Humes' latest books are A MAN AND HIS MOUNTAIN (Public Affairs, October 2013), the biography of winemaking legend Jess Jackson, and GARBOLOGY: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash (Avery/Penguin, April 2012). His other books include the PEN Award-winning NO MATTER HOW LOUD I SHOUT: A Year In the Life of Juvenile Court, the bestseller MISSISSIPPI MUD, FORCE OF NATURE: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart's Green Revolution, and MONKEY GIRL: Evolution, Education, Religion and the Battle for America's Soul.

BACK STORY: When I was six I decided I wanted to be a writer, and I've been at it ever since. I started my writing career in newspapers, and I think I probably would have paid them, instead of the other way around, for the thrill of seeing my first byline in print. As a newspaper reporter, I gravitated toward stories that allowed me to dig behind the scenes and beneath the surface, looking for questions others hadn't asked or imagined. For me, the job amounted to this: license to find out the things I had always wanted to know, about anything and everything that interested, touched or outraged me. Then, within the space and time limitations of a daily newspaper, I had the chance to mold it all into a story to pass onto others. I loved that work.

When I left newspapers to write nonfiction books, I suddenly had weeks or months, rather than hours or days, to immerse myself in the inner workings of the places, characters and events I seek to understand and write about. I had found the greatest job I can imagine.

In my books, I try to take readers inside worlds most don't get to visit or see close up on their own. My first stories were about crime -- real-life murder mysteries-- and I still enjoy reading and writing true crime. But I've pursued broader and more varied narratives in my more recent books. I've written about the nation's crumbling juvenile justice system, the California high school that went from worst to best in the state, the harrowing but surprisingly humane world of a neonatal intensive care unit, the front lines of a modern-day Scopes Monkey Trial, a Gulf Coast murder mystery solved by the victims' own daughter.

Lately - in ECO BARONS, FORCE OF NATURE and GARBOLOGY - I've focused on narratives about the environment and sustainability. I believe this to be the most important story of our age - for ourselves, and for our children.

But after immersing myself in trash for GARBOLOGY, I dove into the very different world of wine and undertook my very first biography. I feel privileged to tell the classic American success story behind the founder of Kendall-Jackson Wines, Jess Jackson, in A MAN AND HIS MOUNTAIN.

OTHER WRITING: I've written for numerous publications, including Los Angeles Magazine, Sierra Magazine, Readers Digest, California Lawyer, the Oxford American, the Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. I have taught writing and journalism at the University of California, Irvine, Chapman University, and the University of Oregon.

SPEAKING: I enjoy speaking about my work, and have been invited to address a wide range of groups and organizations:the National Education Summit, the National Steinbeck Center, the ALOUD series, the National Association of District Attorneys, the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the National Association of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Dole Center for Politics, the National High School Journalism Conference, the National College Newspaper Convention, the National Association of Teachers of English, the California Department of Corrections, the California Appellate Project, the American Psychology and Law Society, the Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Poynter Institute, the Crichton Club and numerous universities and other schools. I was called to testify about my reporting on juvenile court before the U.S. Senate and a joint session of the California Senate and Assembly. I've had the pleasure of delivering a commencement address at Hampshire College in Amherst, my alma mater, and have enjoyed speaking at venues throughout California as a contributing writer to MY CALIFORNIA, an anthology from which all proceeds were donated to the California Arts Council to support arts and writing programs for the state's school children. I served as a Regents Lecturer at the University of California, Irvine, and taught writing workshops at the University of Oregon graduate program in literary nonfiction.

HONORS: I received a Pulitzer Prize for my newspaper coverage of the military, a PEN Center USA award for NO MATTER HOW LOUD I SHOUT, a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for "The Forgotten," my LA Magazine account of life inside Los Angeles's nightmarish home for neglected children, and a Silver Gavel honor for MONKEY GIRL. The Washington Post named SCHOOL OF DREAMS a best book of 2003; the Los Angeles Times named MEAN JUSTICE a best book of 1999.

BORN: Philadelphia.

EDUCATION: Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass.

CURRENT WHEREABOUTS: Southern California

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Galligar Chance on January 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Baby ER" is an incredibly dramatic story of hope, fear, miracles, and joy. For parents like myself who have experienced this situation, it will be like revisiting an unforgettable time in our lives. For those who have had the wondrous luck of never having walked in those particular shoes, it is an eye-opening account of a world known to a few. I appreciated the fact that Humes drew from his own first-hand knowledge of what the parents go through during this stressful time. In documenting the stories of three different families during their stays from the critical first hours of life to the unforgettable conclusions, he tells each story with sensitivity and compassion, as a father who has been there should. This is an outstanding book that should be shared with anyone going through this situation, and with every doctor, nurse, and other health-care professional who might be connected with the care of children.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Once you have started the emotional roller-coaster ride with these families and their sick children you cannot stop and put the book down. You are there...right there in the NICU with these families. Your stomach is churning and your heart is breaking as if it is your child that you are looking at through the glass, unable to hold or even touch. From genetic disorders, to drug abuse in expectant mothers, to no explanation... it just happens... you feel the days turning into what seems like a lifetime for these parents(and in some cases literally is a lifetime). The author pulls you in and does not let you go until you have experienced every set-back and milestone imaginable in a newborn's life. Because of the dedication of the doctors and nurses who go above and beyond and their remarkable ability to save these precious lives, you are left feeling hopeful, having shed a lot of tears, but smiling throughout. Read this book and the next hug you give your own child...Oh, what a feeling and a gift!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christine A. Hassan on January 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the mother of a multi-handicapped child, it's difficult to describe to others the roller coaster of our daily lives. This book captures it all, the doctors, nurses, therapists, parents, and always the babies. Impossible to put down as you follow the infants ups and downs, learning the history, politics, and management of the modern NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). This should earn Edward Humes another Pulitizer. I'm buying it as a present for my own daughter's neonatologist/pediatrician.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on January 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I came across this book by chance and could not believe that its setting was the NICU where my child spent his first 3 months of life. Humes did a craftsman's job of capturing the intensity of the experience for the parents of premature infants. He also weaves into his narrative the history of neonatology and the pressures placed on the doctors by our current health care mess. Very interesting (as was his previous book on juvenile justice).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Edward Humes, a master of the English language and journalist reporting, has triumphed again with a nonfiction acount of life in a neonatal ward that somehow suceeds in being both charming and devastating. This book is a winner for anyone will compassion and/or intellect.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book is a roller coaster--a fascinating and really touching story that actually shows the human side of a big-city hospital. I think every parent would want to read this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must read for those of us who are NICU nurses, and those that are interested in this area. I have been a nurse in the NICU for merely a year, and this book helped ne answer alot of questions. The author does a wonderful job of explaining, and his sections on the history of neonatology were enlightening and frightening at the same time. I would highly recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
My girlfriend is studying to be a NNP and she is quite tired of reading textbooks. Baby E.R. has reminded her of why she is putting up w/ the difficulties of school. This would be a great book for anyone going into neonatalogy.
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