I Wanna Be Literated #237

I Wanna Be Literated #237

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Who Says You’re Dead? Medical and Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned
by Jacob Appel

Who Says You’re Dead is the book we didn’t know we were going to love. This is such a peculiarly delightful book, mostly because it does so many things right. First of all, it’s incredibly interesting and a borderline page-turner; covering topics we didn’t know were right in front of us the whole time. We live in such a protocol-driven world that we don’t always fully grasp that, sometimes, unexpected things happen and we’re left assessing a technicality. And sometimes these technicalities are life-or-death situations.

Split over eighty super short chapters, Appel proceeds to briefly set up the scenario and the ethical dilemma which drives it. If you don’t like a topic, you’ll get a new one four pages later. The topics are highly original and feel straight out of a morning talk show. For example, what should a doctor do when they find out the offspring organ donor of a recipient turns out to not actually their child? Who owns a surrogate’s baby if the parents separate while the child is gestating? Should a severely mentally challenged child be growth-stunted if it helps the parents take care of it? Should taxpayers pay for expensive operations for prisoners? Can a person refuse a C-section if the scar will affect their career? What’s even more compelling is the fact that Appell doesn’t pull these situations out of thin air, but actually bases them in reality and puts them in historical context. Most importantly, he also presents scenarios and outcomes where the decisions have gone both ways and lets the reader make up their own mind.

Who Says You’re Dead will fill a reader’s head with ideas and make them think and rethink their beliefs of what’s right and wrong. It’s a powerful book, incredibly compelling, and often gets at the sticky business of what it means it be alive or even a human being.

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