The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1048: How to Revive the Recently Dead

The history of medicine covers many interesting–and dubious–methods used to try to revive drowning victims and other recently deceased persons.
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How to Revive the Recently Dead

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For millennia, when people stopped breathing, they stopped living. The classic test for determining whether people were asleep or dead was whether they could fog a mirror.

Resuscitating the Drowned:

In the eighteenth century, the citizens of Amsterdam became alarmed at the number of residents perishing by drowning in the canals. They started a Society for the Favor of Drowned Persons that experimented with some interesting techniques to try to revive the drowned.

David Casarett, MD, reviews the history of resuscitation medicine with us. He then brings us up to date on current advances in rescuing people who have suffered heart attacks or other potentially lethal catastrophes as well as drowning. What questions should we ask as science makes it increasingly possible to revive the recently dead? Is that always desirable?

This Week’s Guest:

David Casarett, MD, MA, is a palliative care physician and health services researcher whose work focuses on improving systems of care for people with serious, life-threatening illnesses. He recently relocated from the University of Pennsylvania where he was a tenured professor of medicine. Dr. Casarett is now Chief of Palliative Care at the Duke University School of Medicine. He received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. This is the highest honor the US government gives to researchers in the early stages of their careers.

Dr. Casarett has also written three non-fiction books, including Shocked: Adventures in Bringing Back the Recently Dead (2014). His first novel in the Ethical Chiang Mai Detective Agency series, Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness, will be published in September 2016.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site. Podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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