Sunday, December 04, 2005

"patch of face, chilled"

Comma Chilled. This story has been like Christmas for writers the world over. Consider the language...

From Friday's NY Times:
The swollen nose, lips and chin she saw there were not her own - those had been ripped from her head by her pet Labrador retriever in May - but they were a blessing for a woman whose face had become a lipless grimace.
They dismissed assertions that they were bent on glory at the patient's expense.
According to Dr. Dubernard, the woman had quarreled with her daughter that evening in May and the daughter had left to spend the night at her grandmother's home. The woman was agitated, he said, and took "one pill" to help herself sleep. At some point during the night, he said, she arose and stumbled through the house, encountering the dog.

Local press reports have suggested that the woman fell unconscious and that the dog chewed and clawed her face in an attempt to revive her, but Dr. Dubernard said the dog had been adopted from the local pound and was known to be aggressive.
And the grand champion paragraph:
Harvesting of the face was complicated by the convergence of several teams to remove other organs from the donor, but the operation was complete by 5 a.m. and Dr. Devauchelle rushed with the patch of face, chilled, to Amiens to begin the transplant...
The writing seems more like a cult novel than journalism.
One of the nurses asked if they might applaud and when one of the doctors nodded, they began to clap.
Finally, the provides a bit of scientific grounding:
As with all transplants, the doctors said, there was about a 33 percent risk of death, a 33 percent risk that the body would reject the graft and only a 33 percent chance that the transplant would prove successful.
"As with all transplants?" 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3? Whaddya know. What a coincidence.

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