Fatherhood, faith and love in the time of stem cells
by Paul McLean
How does an experience you wouldn’t wish on anyone become one you wouldn’t trade for anything?
Paul McLean, newly enraptured with his ancestry, was living a dream with his wife and young daughter, discovering the islands and highlands of Scotland. But while McLean walked in wonder over ancestral grounds, his daughter’s immune system was disappearing. She was abandoned by her blood line, the victim of a mysterious and life-threatening disease incurable only decades before but now requiring the sacrifice of a father’s safe assumptions and the new blood line of a stranger.
In the author’s lifetime, medical science has transformed the nature of hope and possibility, putting in the hands of doctors and nurses the tools of the miraculous. McLean would come to know this intimately and searingly.
A former sports writer, Paul McLean often heard the athlete’s hopeful refrain: “There’s always tomorrow.” It’s not true, though. There isn’t always tomorrow. But within the unyielding and harsh truth of mortality exists astonishment and wonder. You may find, in Blood Lines, a way to live in the moment and be grateful for today.
"Blood Lines written by Paul McLean, should be required reading for medical care givers as well as for parents whose child is diagnosed with a life threatening, albeit potentially curable, illness.”
Terry B Strom, MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School-Co-Director, The Transplant Institute, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
“The story of a father’s courage, a daughter’s strength and a very personal triumph for medical research.”
P. Michael Conn, scientist and co-author of The Animal Research War.
“Paul McLean bravely takes us into every parent’s nightmare—a healthy child, a mysterious disease, a young life suddenly at risk—and shows us how to come through it. Blood Lines will give comfort and answers to anyone who finds themselves in need of hope in the midst of chaos and tragedy. This is a book of miracles: about how a family, community, and medicine collaborated on curing a child -- told by a father who lived it.”
Susan Senator, author, Making Peace With Autism, The Autism Mom’s Survival Guide
“When a parent’s worst nightmare occurs, the desperate illness and possible death of their child, most of us have no words to describe it. As a writer Paul McLean tells his journey with honesty, an open heart, and his idiosyncratic humor. This is not a book to be read in public or just before going to bed. I wept, I laughed, I nodded in recognition, and I wept some more.”
Rev. Dr. Jim Sherblom, First Parish in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Don't Miss Paul's Blogs on Topical Medical Issues
Medical Ethics and The Blurred Boundaries of ‘Do No Harm’
I feel in over my head. I am sitting at a table in a conference room of the Countway Library of Harvard Medical School, with an esteemed and brilliant ethicist to my immediate left, a man I know to be a strong proponent of assisted dying in Massachusetts, and to my right a woman who is both physician and Catholic nun.
The Night God Appeared to Me (in a Bag on an IV Pole)
Whether it’s Jesus appearing in a tortilla or Mary in window condensation, I’m drawn to those who see, filled with a freak-show gawker’s curiosity. But I also couldn’t stop laughing the first time I saw the Almighty appear in a Monty Python sky, and I laugh with each successive viewing. I don’t even wait for the scene now; I laugh in anticipation of the cartoon God’s command to stop groveling.
A Walk on the Transplant Side
The liver newly implanted in Lou Reed is not thrilled with its 71-year-old host, The Onion reports. The rock ‘n’ roll icon “is really hard to get along with,” the 3.5-pound organ is quoted as saying. You know these are roiling times in the world of organ transplantation when even The Onion is devoting its satire to the subject. And though The Onion did not actually interview the newly relocated organ, the simple fact of the singer known for “Walk on the Wild Side” receiving a replacement liver is true.
CPR more often prolongs seniors' suffering than saves lives
I seem to have misplaced my outrage. In Bakersfield, California, an 87-year-old woman collapsed in a senior residence and was allowed to die by a nurse who was following company policy against staff performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In a recording of her seven-minute conversation with the 911 dispatcher, the nurse's was, to my ear, one of indifference.
Knowing When, When Knowing Is Impossible
PulmCCM.org (pulmonary & critical care blog)
The child was her first, and there were complications and aggressive therapies from the start and for months. She was unaware that the medical team was coming to believe the baby would not survive, that aggressive treatments no longer served a therapeutic purpose and were instead doing harm. Over time, nurses began to decline providing treatments that had become too compromising, too painful, but no one said this to the mother. She isn’t sure she could have heard it then, anyway. One nurse faithfully stayed right to the end, remaining an important source of support for the mother. Then, shortly after the child’s death, the nurse quit her job.