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Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds Hardcover – October 12, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

High-profile physician-journalist Gupta—a medical reporter for CNN and columnist for Time who declined President Obama's nomination to be surgeon general—knows a great story when he hears one, and in this collection he rolls out extraordinarily harrowing and inspiring tales from the annals of they-ought-to-be-dead. When there is an injury, a heart attack or any loss of oxygen to the brain, time is the essential factor in determining whether a patient will live. For instance, therapeutic hypothermia, by reducing the brain's need for oxygen immediately after a trauma, allows more time for treatments to work. Gupta also notes that lives can be saved through incremental changes to current medical techniques rather than revolutionary breakthroughs. Eliminating the breathing component from CPR and concentrating only on chest compressions has been shown to raise heart attack survival rates to an unheard-of 20%. The achievements are stunning, though Gupta notes none of the exciting medical changes that we've come across will eliminate the sense of awe and mystery that stalks our notions of death. Yet it's beyond comforting to know there are doctors who simply refuse to quit a brave but ultimately losing battle to wrestle control over death. (Oct. 12)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"You will be on the edge of your seat as you read the superbly crafted stories of people who have beaten the odds, something I like to think I know quite a bit about. My friend Dr. Sanjay Gupta, America's doctor, has written a page-turner. It's an exciting medical thriller with the compassion, hope, excitement and aspiration that define Sanjay." --Lance Armstrong

"Dr. Gupta's new book is not only fascinating, it reads like a fast-paced adventure story, and it is. Full of literally heart-stopping moments, CHEATING DEATH is an account of modern-day scientific miracles, most of which would have been unthinkable a decade or two ago, and which expand the very boundaries of life itself." --Oliver Sacks



"I owe my recovery and my health to medical advances and the remarkable pioneers behind them. In his new book, the World's Doctor, Sanjay Gupta, delivers a breathtaking preview of a coming revolution in medicine that challenges virtually everything we think we know about living and dying. A truly provocative and fascinating reading experience." --President Bill Clinton

"Sanjay Gupta melds dramatic stories of people on the cusp of death rescued by life-saving advances. This book deeply touches the heart and enlightens the mind." --Jerome Groopman, M.D., Recanati Professor, Harvard Medical School, Author of How Doctors Think

"In Cheating Death, Dr. Sanjay Gupta chronicles a series of scientific advances that are saving patients' lives in striking and almost unfathomable ways. This is a wonderful book....All who read it will walk away feeling a sense of joy in the changes that Dr. Gupta so carefully and warmly details." --Henry S. Friedman, MD, James B. Powell, Jr. Professor of Neuro-Oncology; Deputy Director, The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center


"Dr. Gupta has masterfully woven compelling human stories and medical drama that intersect that narrow line separating life from death. The brave doctors who courageously defy conventional wisdom and embrace bold science and the human condition will have you cheering and shaking your head in amazement." --Nancy L. Snyderman, M.D., NBC News Chief Medical Editor; Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Pennsylvania
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Life & Style; First Edition edition (October 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0046LUJ5K
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,995,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on October 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Cheating Death is an incredibly well-organized, informative and educational little tome. It reads like a novelized cross between a discovery health special and an episode of Rescue 911. The drama is there as Gupta details harrowing stories of near death intermixed with an accounting of the scientific possibility and theory surrounding all things death related. Along with chapters detailing new findings about CPR and the benefits of hypothermic treatment, Gupta surprises with medically dubious topics such as suspended animation, life after death, and miracles. It makes for a bizarre combination of topics, and an even more interesting read. The author utilizes an odd blend of first, second and third person narration which awkwardly works for the material. Gupta resists taking sides in any scientific debate allowing the heroic doctors, anecdotal cases, and studies to speak for him. Cheating Death covers a lot of technical subject matter, some of which is life saving information, but Gupta takes the time to walk the lay person through his terminology. I can not think of anyone who would not benefit from this read.
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Format: Hardcover
What happens when blood no longer reaches the brain, organs begin to break down, and chemical reactions start destroying cells throughout the body? The answer is no longer as obvious as it once was. In "Cheating Death," Sanjay Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon and popular correspondent, describes some remarkable cases in which physicians managed to revive patients whose condition seemed hopeless. Sixty-three year old Zeyad Barazanji was working out on a treadmill when he was felled by a massive heart attack. "His heart pumped no blood, his brain sent no signals, [and] he thought no thoughts." Nevertheless, he recovered and went on to live a normal life. We know now that "death is not a single event, but a process that may to bbe interrupted, even reversed." Although this notion sounds fanciful, today there are "myriad ways that modern science is changing our understanding of life and death."

Gupta tells us about a man who is diagnosed with a brain tumor that is almost invariably fatal; a fetus with a life-threatening heart defect; a skier who falls through the ice and remains trapped beneath its surface for over forty minutes; and a hiker who stumbles, hits his head, and remains on the ground for twenty-four days before he is rescued. The story of these and other individuals demonstrates "that the human body can survive far longer than we usually bargain for." There are various techniques, such as therapeutic hypothermia, that can buy valuable time for those in extremis by staving off shock, controlling blood flow, and reducing the body's need for oxygen. Are these methods guaranteed to work every time, and are they used in every hospital? Absolutely not. However, researchers are constantly investigating new lifesaving protocols, some of which hold great promise.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Bible-based review by Don the Baptist of the text “Cheating Death” by Sanjay Gupta MD.

This is a great book.

If one has an interest in the “behind-the-scenes” medical efforts currently underway across the country which are fervently attempting to extend life, then this text should be considered required reading.

Far more than a boring review of innovative medical practices – which would place almost anyone in snooze-mode – a variety of interesting tales are rehearsed of individuals found in the most dire of straits, who through some medical sleight of hand, get a chance at continuing life.

Nonetheless, as this is a Bible-based review, herein the focus will be on two significant conflicts between the text and the Bible. In Gupta’s defense, however, he openly states, “I don’t spend a lot of time talking about faith. I was never formally trained in the interplay between the type of healing we think of in hospitals and the type of healing that takes place in private, deep in the recesses of our minds. Yet over time, I have come to deeply appreciate the place of prayer in the healing process.” (page 211)

Note the following quotes from the text:

“His heart pumped no blood, his brain sent no signals, he thought no thoughts. Make no mistake – this is death. But maybe not the way we tend to think about it.” (page xv)

“…she had been clinically dead for three hours…” (page 8) and later, it is noted that “…she returned from the dead.” (page 15)

“Mertz was back from the dead.” (page 41)

“He truly was dead, and here he is, fine.” (page 56)

Quoting Mark Roth, “‘Clinical death’ might be the loss of a heartbeat… I turn off the heartbeat so they are clinically dead. But I can bring them back.
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Format: Hardcover
I've always been fascinated by the vast field of medicine and new therapies/medicines/techniques for saving lives. Some of our greatest challenges include finding out just how in the world our cells work in order to fix the best we can fix things like cancer, tumors, terminal diseases, and brain swelling among many others. In Cheating Death, the reader gets a nice look at what kinds of revolutionary new techniques are being used across the world to save patients that would have normally been given a finite amount of time to live and then die. For example, hypothermia can actually be used to reduce swelling in crucial areas of the body and even the brain that can give doctors more time to work with the patient and see if there is anything they can do for them while the swelling goes down. In another instance, Dr. Gupta describes some of the bold techniques that involve actually operating in the uterus on the unborn child itself to save it from potentially fatal pre-birth defects and/or a shortened lifespan once born. As a science fan, I was the most intrigued when Cheating Death discussed the out of body experiences that people can have when they are in cardiac arrest or in some form of "brain death". I've always wondered if these experiences were just made up out of either the person's religious beliefs or something else. The answer from the book is that it's not 100% clear just what causes these episodes. Some physicians believe it is the lack of oxygen to the brain that causes these experiences while others believe cardiac arrest/brain death can induce a form of REM-intrusion sleep and that is how people have near death experiences. The big questions that this topic presents are those such as is consciousness something that can or cannot be separated from the mind? Who knows?Read more ›
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