Monday, April 23, 2012

Is There Life After Brain Death?

A shocking article (click here) in today's Chicago Tribune described a mother whose newborn baby was found alive in an Argentine morgue 12 hours after being declared dead. According to the report:

. . . Doctors told Analia Bouter that her baby was stillborn when she gave birth in Argentina's northern Chaco province on April 3. But when she and her husband pried open the coffin inside the refrigerated morgue, they found the baby breathing.

The story left me overjoyed, but nonetheless shivering with an almost existential chill.

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Being Black Had to do with a Misdiagnosed Case of Kidney Disease


I was a week away from returning home from a year’s visiting professorship in Japan, when a  routine lab test discovered that I was suffering from kidney failure.  The doctor tilted his head, studying me for a moment with a puzzled look on his face.  “What’s odd,” he said in unambiguous but accented English, was that I appeared asymptomatic.  And in truth before I had walked into his office, I would have characterized myself as enjoying the best health I had in years – feeling energetic from  exercising more, eating lots of fish, but staying away from sodium-traps like miso soup and tsukemono (Japanese pickles).  Within a week I was back in Texas, stumbling into my primary care physician’s office, nauseous and dizzy.  But as it turned out, the new lab reports declared that my kidneys were functioning normally, although the test results had the same numerical values as the earlier Japanese one.  As for the symptoms, that was a function of staying up all night surfing the Internet with near hysterical fervor, using such keywords as “kidney disease,” “kidney failure,” and “dialysis,” while pigging out on Haagen-Dazs strawberry ice cream.