TRANSPLANT by Philip Dossick


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John Hurley was a beefy, boozy, overachieving executive who suffered a massive coronary at thirty-five. Subsequent hospitalizations forced an early retirement and, when by-pass possibilities were ruled out, he was referred to Stanford University Medical Center for a transplant. Dossick uses the remembrances. of John and his wife Ann to structure this chronicle, and the contours of his family life do emerge clearly. But don's expect the regal cadences of Rachel MacKenzie (Risk, 1971) or the enhanced introspection of other technological survivors. Hurley remained a chauvinistic, self-centered, partying lug, unable to use those added (two) years for much besides personal indulgence despite honest fears for his children's future. One questions the validity of this life-extending measure for a man who spends his recovery period visiting wineries and later keeps ambulance attendants waiting while he finishes his martini. And one winces at his scrambled psychology when he regularly locks the door to his young children: ""When I do pass away, I think it's gonna have a profound psychological effect on the kids, if I get too close to them now."" Loads of friends give parties and organize benefits--and yet no one gets him a counselor to sort out his distress. As for why he stayed with his wife: ""Because neither one of us ever had the bails to walk out the door first."" Ann, in contrast, does seem to learn from the cumulative experiences, to listen to her children (especially the seriously neglected teenager), and to look ahead to her own independence. A curious, disconcerting entry in the patient-reaction literature.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Viking