Monday, October 12, 2009

"Cheating Death" Puts New Spin on Cycling Injuries

A new book by chief medical correspondent for CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, says that people can and  have recovered from severe injuries where they were declared brain dead, and that could be a life saver for cyclists who have been critically injured in crashes.

The book, "Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that are Saving Lives Against All Odds," describes breakthroughs that can save even those closest to death.  For example, how long should you care for a loved one who is in a coma? Maybe longer than you think says Dr. Gupta who is also a neurosurgeon and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2009. 

Photo: Time Magazine

In one example, an MRI brain scan of a woman shows no activity at all, but when the doctors mention her favorite sport, tennis, her brain lights up suddenly, to their great surprise. By medical and legal terms, she was already dead.

In so many cases reviewed by Gupta, the patients were legally and medically dead, but eventually revived, showing that we know much, much less about brain and bodily activity than we thought.

In another case a woman who was so cold her body was below the level believed survivable, and all of her bodily functions--brain, heart--had shut down. The hospital did not use warming devices, nor did they use fluids but placed her in a room temperature room and allowed her to warm slowly. She eventually recovered.

In an interview with Dave Davies on Fresh Air on National Public Radio today, Gupta described many other cases where people suffered heart attacks and their brains stopped, but also recovered fully.

Given the number and severity of injuries cyclists can experience, this is good information for them to share with their families and enter into their living wills in case something should happen to them.

Not even a year ago, Camille Savoy was struck by a driver on Route 9W who veered off the main roadway, hitting him from behind. He had severe brain injuries that led his doctors to conclude that he could not be saved two weeks after the crash, though his body was quickly recovering. It is not clear if those doctors knew of Gupta's book or the cases he reviewed.
Gupta describes many instances in which patients are assumed to be dead or in a "persistent vegetative state," but do recover over time.

Click here to hear his interview on NPR, which should not be missed.

Note: BBB does not have a financial interest or advertising connection with this book, nor any connection to the author. 


Anonymous said...

This book was published yesterday, October 12th 2009. How is it at all unclear if Savoy's doctors knew about a book that was going to be published nearly a year after an event?

If someone dies today of a disease that will be cured next year are you going to try to blame them as well?

Jen Benepe said...

I am sure you know that doctors and other medical people share ideas and research long before it reaches the shelves of people like ourselves.
Books are published many years after research is completed. And there are some hospitals that have greater research capability, or have doctors on their staff that stay current with research or participate in it.
Also most doctors attend conferences in which new research is presented and discussed.
Sooo.....Not sure why you are using this as an opportunity to vilify me--got an ax to grind?