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Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds Hardcover – October 12, 2009
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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.
"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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what is called "the death rattle". This process
is typified by loud bursts, gasps, convulsions
and/or heaving. Some lucky patients have overcome
this sorry state to die another day. The agonal
phase and its aftermath is the subject of intense
debate in the medical community. The debate
concerns the actual time of death and the
appropriate strategies to maintain life until
the cellular structures in the body cease to
operate at any level to sustain life.
The curious case of an aspiring orthopedic surgeon
(Dr. Bagenholm) is described in Dr. Gupta's book.
There is some debate about whether or not this case
has ever been presented for a peer review.
There was a snow accident followed by a deep freeze
of the body and resuscitation on a heart-lung machine
to rewarm the blood. The attachment of an ECMO
artificial lung got the heart to beat producing
blood pressure and kidney function. The objective
was to keep the patient dry and warm with limited
drugs. There is much debate about the actual point
of death. A rule of thumb allows at least a 6 hour
period after which the process is said to be
A strength of the work is that the author explains
the sources of the stories together with a host
of professional journals to help support the
science described in the book. Typical citations
are from the following:
o the Annals of Surgery
o Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The volume is reasonably priced for the extremely
valuable information content presented.
Yes, Gupta and his ghost writer are misinforming the public on medical facts, and there are people suffering as a result. The ethical thing for the two of them to do is correct the mistake.
In the book, on his TV show, and in interviews promoting the book, Gupta is unmistakably confusing coma, persistant vegetative state, and brain death. He's clearly linking his stories of recovery from vegetative state with brain death and organ procurement for transplantation. Brain death is an entirely separate condition from both persistant vegetative state, and coma. Mark Ragucci was never declared brain dead. The NIH ([...]), and many other institions and organizations concerned with medical information, take pains to inform the public that there is a big difference. When a family is informed of a declaration of brain death they shouldn't have to feel that medical professionals are conspiring and failing to save their loved one. Yet Gupta seems determined to convince the public that brain death is just vegetative state, and that medical professionals are just reluctant to help the "brain dead".
Why is he doing this? I can only guess. Its a far more dramatic story, and something sure to make him more money, to claim that more isn't done to save the brain dead because surgeons want organs for transplant. Organ transplantation has always sparked a primal irrational fear, generating more urban legends and ghoulish stories than any other medical procedure. Next of kin often refuse to allow organ donation because of the feeling that something ghoulish is being done with their loved one, and the suspicion that they are being allowed to die for someone else's benefit. Any number of news organizations, even respected ones, have, at one time or another, repeated the most bizarre urban legends of organ snatching as verified events. CNN has recently aired several reports claiming a vast US organ black market exists based on friend of a friend reports and one arrest of someone attempting to broker a kidney sale. Don't expect any followup reports or arrests.
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