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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 273

If this is dying, I remember thinking, it's not all that bad

Delhi Public School, RK Puram, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication23-Feb-2016

Correspondence Address:
Delhi Public School, RK Puram, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2395-5414.177267

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How to cite this article:
Udbhav. If this is dying, I remember thinking, it's not all that bad. J Pract Cardiovasc Sci 2015;1:273

How to cite this URL:
Udbhav. If this is dying, I remember thinking, it's not all that bad. J Pract Cardiovasc Sci [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Sep 16];1:273. Available from: https://www.j-pcs.org/text.asp?2015/1/3/273/177267

Dear Editor,

HEART: An American Medical Odyssey by the former vice-president of the United States, Dick Cheney, and Dr. Jonathan Reiner, is a book that stays true to its name. Embodying all the twists and turns, pangs and upheavals, dangers, and risks that characterize the journey of how Dick Cheney was snatched from the clutches of death, it shows how fragile yet all-powerful this red-colored fist-sized organ in our chest can be.

Written from the perspective of both the patient and doctor, it is unique in the sense that it offers the emotions felt by an aggrieved patient and the feelings of responsibility of a doctor on literally the same page. Dick Cheney describes with staggering honesty what he felt when he realized that his own heart was beyond salvation and needed to be replaced, and how modern medical technology developed in tandem with his condition to give him his miracle of a transplant at just the right time.

However, it so happened that before his heart was fitted with a ventricular assist device and ultimately replaced by another heart, his doctor himself had given up hope. We see how Jonathan Reiner, who had been seeing this patient for so many years, saw this person as a hopeless case. He was even about to notify the family members. For the first time, the passages written by Reiner provide a rare insight into the mind of a doctor who realizes and fears his own helplessness, and how he might not be able to save the life of a patient who has blind faith in him.

Heart transplantation, being as dangerous a procedure as any, was ultimately seen as the only option for Cheney's damaged heart. However, what is unique about this sequence of events is that Cheney describes these moments with startling impassiveness - he too experienced the same apprehensions and fears that anyone in his situation would, but he did not give in to them and lose composure. Even though he repented his smoking habits, he did not regret them - this shows how little such a life-changing event had changed him. His urge for achieving normalcy proved that even though the life-granting force of his body had been replaced, he was still the adventurous man he had once been and would not allow this incident to change him.

Therefore I recommend this book to patients and doctors alike as it offers an account of the ups and downs concerned with this momentous medical procedure but stays close to the core of the matter - it's just a different heart.

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There are no conflicts of interest.


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