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Life with Sudden Death

A Tale of Moral Hazard and Medical Misadventure

Michael Downing

Hardcover

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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (10/1/2010)

Description

The youngest of nine children, Michael Downing was three when his father died — suddenly and inexplicably. No autopsy was performed. The family diagnosis was God's will.

As a boy, Downing rigorously trained as a spiritual athlete, preparing to vault into heaven. But eventually he escaped the religious dogma, and the family arena — until one of his brothers died in 2003, suddenly and inexplicably. No autopsy was performed.

Alarmed, Downing pursued a diagnosis: Drawn into a world of researchers, clinicians, and manufacturers with their own arcane ethics and faith, Downing discovered he had inherited a mutant protein from his father, and the first symptom would be his sudden death.

To save his life, a defibrillator was hard–wired to his heart. Within weeks, he needed emergency surgery to remove the device and the life–threatening infection he got with it. Two months later, he was re–implanted — only to read in his morning newspaper that the new wires anchored to his heart were prone to failure. His device might be powerless, or it might deliver a series of unwarranted, possibly fatal, shocks.

From a bedeviled boyhood in the Berkshires to a grim comedy of errors in one of Boston's best hospitals, Life with Sudden Death is a wild ride.

Counterpoint, 9781582435220, 256pp.

Publication Date: October 13, 2009



About the Author

Michael Downing's novels include the national bestseller Perfect Agreement, named one of the 10 Best Books of the year by Amazon and Newsday, and Breakfast with Scot, a comedy about two gay men who inadvertently become parents. An American Library Association honor book, Breakfast with Scot was adapted as a movie that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. His nonfiction includes Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center, hailed by the New York Review of Books as a "dramatic and insightful" narrative history of the first Buddhist monastery outside of Asia, and by the Los Angeles Times as "a highly readable book." His essays and reviews appear in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and other periodicals. Michael teaches creative writing at Tufts University. He and his partner have lived together in Cambridge for more than 25 years.