WHO GOES FIRST? The Story of Self-Experimentation in Medicine by

WHO GOES FIRST? The Story of Self-Experimentation in Medicine

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From a senior medical correspondent for the New York Times, an absorbing account of doctors throughout history who have tried new techniques and medicines on themselves. In some way, according to Altman, doctors make ideal guinea pigs--who better to observe and report on medical phenomena? His tales of autoexperimentation begin with a tragic Peruvian figure, a young medical student named Carrion who died in 1885 after inoculating himself with a deadly disease--and by his efforts paving the way to saving thousands. Even more startling is the case of Werner Forssmann, who pioneered the invaluable diagnostic technique of heart catheterization (in 1929) by inserting a urethral catheter attached to a hollow needle into a vein near his elbow and finally threading the tube down into the heart--and then having himself X-rayed. Two other medical daredevils were Dr. John Stapp, an American who, in the 40's, had himself strapped into a ""rocket sled"" and slammed over and over again into a sudden halt (to test aircraft safety harnesses); and Dr. William Lovelace, who parachuted out of airplanes at over 40,000 feet to test emergency oxygen units designed for bomber crews during the WW II: he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Altman goes on to discuss the cases of doctors and researchers who perfected curare for anesthesiologists; and then, of course, there's the famous Swiss chemist, Dr. Albert Hoffman, who discovered that a little lysergic acid diethylamide goes a long, long way. In all, a fund of medical anecdotes with which to surprise (and dismay) your dinner-table companions.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1987
Publisher: Random House