By John D. Lantos M.D.

Written with poignancy and compassion, Do We nonetheless Need Doctors? is a private account from front strains of the ethical and political battles which are reshaping America's healthiness care approach.

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Once, when she did, I told her I needed to speak to her. We had a long talk. ” She didn’t meet my eyes, stared defiantly out the window. ” “Yeah, they tol’ me that b’fore too, but seems like every time it happens, she just comes back stronger. ” We were sitting by Priscilla’s crib. A mobile was spinning over her head. Priscilla was watching the little bears going round in circles to the music of a Brahms lullaby. A corrugated plastic tube connecting her to the ventilator gave her sixty breaths each minute of 35 percent oxygen.

The Utopia of modern medicine is a curious one indeed; in it, the ultimate value of longevity and individual rights goes unquestioned. René Dubos noted that “all changes, even the most desirable, are always fraught with unpredictable consequences. The scientist must be beware of having to admit, like Captain Ahab in Melville’s Moby Dick, ‘All my means are sane. ’”17 Bethann’s resuscitation started with the best of motives but POSTWAR OPTIMISM 29 gradually became madness. We pumped and breathed away, the two doctors, providing what we optimistically think of as basic life support but which was really just a grisly sort of last rites.

Their white light flattens everything out. Sometimes, I imagine that I’m on a spaceship, me and the last child alive on earth. We’re light years from the solar system, off to start over somewhere. And the mission depends on my keeping Priscilla alive. She’s getting a little bigger than she was when I first met her, but she won’t ever get very big. She has a rare dwarfing syndrome called campomelic dysplasia. I had never seen a case of campomelic dysplasia, so I looked it up. According to David Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation, “The great majority of patients die in the neonatal period from respiratory insufficiency, and those surviving into 33 34 DO WE STILL NEED DOCTORS?

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