The blurb and the cover picture (old edition 1974) attracted me to this book, which otherwise would have been unnoticed. Ronald Glasser, a doctor by profession, gives his first hand experience that he confronted in his life as an intern when appointed in Ward-402, the paediatric ward in a hospital. He faces a lot of real life challenges both medically and morally.
The story starts with the admission of an eleven year old Mary Berquam as an advanced case of leukemia in Ward-402. Though anxious and distressed about their child’s health, her parents preferred a comfortable and painless treatment for her. His encounters with patients, their parent, and his colleagues make the skeleton work of the story. Flesh and blood is added with his deep and sincere relationship towards Mary. Towards the end of the story, he finds that, apart from “lab values, IVs, X-rays there were human concerns — grief and heartache, personal problems, economics, fears, and even anger”.
The doctor’s so called “ethics” is finally surrendered to the commanding words of his senior Dr. Prador and he is forced to obey his boss. He removes the respiratory plug and allows Mary embrace death as wished by her father —’no more suffering, no pain, enough’.
A sensitive layman reader may find a tear drop as he completes the last page, but he may also find an obstruction in the flow of storytelling because of the frequently used “medical jargons”. Though written decades ago, this book will be a favourite of all times because of the relevance which the theme provides.