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Attention doctorportal newsletter subscribers,

After December 2018, we will be moving elements from the doctorportal newsletter to MJA InSight newsletter and rebranding it to Insight+. If you’d like to continue to receive a newsletter covering the latest on research and perspectives in the medical industry, please subscribe to the Insight+ newsletter here.

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Honouring choices — life postmortem

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A superb legacy is offered by a woman’s life cut short — her healthy organs

It’s no secret — I’m not surgically inclined. I generally find people’s insides unpleasant to see or handle.

More disquieting, surgical theatres depersonalise. When a person’s essence is reduced to a view of naked innards, neatly framed by sterile blue drapes, is it hostile to replace a cordial introductory handshake with a firm grip on their viscera? Although operations are consensual and intended to improve life, a thought lingers — who is the person on the operating table?

Even so, to a young intern, being invited to assist in theatre on my surgical rotation was a treat. Surgeons declare clinical convictions by steel blade, inflicting wounds to repair health. Such courage requires formidable confidence and arduous training. The surgeon’s reward is to command a theatre which, highly structured and intentionally austere, affords a protecting veil to facilitate their work.

Vocational chimeras, in each surgeon I perceive an architect, interior designer, builder, plumber and electrician of the human body. Their skill on display is impressive; time…

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