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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Brain death has never been a particularly reliable way to gauge whether or not somebody has died, but this story is pretty striking:

Thirty-six hours after the accident, Zack was declared brain dead. The hospital notified the authorities, news reports of his death were published, and preparations were made to harvest his organs.

But when family and friends were called in to make their last goodbyes, Zack's cousin, Dan Coffin, decided to check Zack's vitals one last time. When he ran his pocket knife along Zack's foot and applied pressure under a fingernail, the young man's body responded.

After 48 days in the hospital, Zack was able to return home to Frederick. He continues with rehab, which he finds challenging. "Just ain't got the patience," Zack told NBC.
Meanwhile, io9 shows life expectancy actually going down in a lot of places in America since the 1980s, what the writers of the study call a "growing health gap":
However, beginning in the early 1980s the differences in death rates among/across different counties began to increase. The worst-off counties no longer experienced a fall in death rates, and in a substantial number of counties, mortality actually increased, especially for women, a shift that the researchers call "the reversal of fortunes." This stagnation in the worst-off counties was primarily caused by a slowdown or halt in the reduction of deaths from cardiovascular disease coupled with a moderate rise in a number of other diseases, such as lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes, in both men and women, and a rise in HIV/AIDS and homicide in men. The researchers' key finding, therefore, was that the differences in life expectancy across different counties initially narrowed and then widened.
Is it possible John Edwards was right all this time?'s running a series on longeivity that puts the blame squaring on you, the couch potato...