Defying the Gods: Inside the New Frontiers of Organ Transplants

Scott McCartney, Author
Scott McCartney, Author MacMillan Publishing Company $22 (298p) ISBN 978-0-02-582820-9
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To compassionate and involving effect that will give pause even to critics of organ transplantation, McCartney, a Wall Street Journal writer based in Dallas, here reports on the four months he spent dogging the liver-transplant team and patients at his city's Baylor University Medical Center. Although he argues for the rationality of transplantation and emphasizes the heroics of all involved, McCartney's study should not be dismissed as merely advocacy journalism. On the trail of his story, this tough-minded reporter probes and damns the organ allocation systems nationwide; questions the costs--on average, $200,000--at Baylor and elsewhere, stressing that transplantations are major money-makers for hospitals; compares the survival rates--Baylor's one-year ratio of 87% is the nation's highest--and the unrefined recipient selection process at various medical centers. McCartney follows the convalescences of those who received liver transplants at Baylor during his study: patients do not feel fit for nine months; the immunosuppressant drugs they take can so damage their kidneys that kidney transplants become necessary. Yet those facing transplantations, at least at Baylor, will be reassured by the book, and healthy readers will be left grateful that they themselves need not suffer the experience. (June)
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