Monday 5 December 2016

Kevin Myers: Can it be that when the founding cells of life were formed, someone planned for a rainy day?

Kevin Myers

Published 18/02/2011 | 05:00

When Senator Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot, she was lucky that a Korean surgeon with a great deal of military combat experience was on duty in the local hospital.

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He knew from operating on US servicemen in Iraq that the sooner one treats a gunshot wound to the brain, and stems the bleeding, the greater the chances of the patient surviving. "If I get them alive, there's a 95pc chance they're going to stay that way."

Medical techniques to head wounds used to be based on letting the brain recover from the trauma of the gunshot. Terrible experience in war has since taught doctors that the best response is to act immediately and to stem the bleeding, regardless of collateral damage to the brain: the brain will, as much as possible, then set about repairing itself. The manner in which the human brain will re-wire itself, and change the circuitry to match the wiring, to cope with injury has been one of the major medical discoveries of the past quarter century. The human brain has a simply staggering ability to repair damage, and to recover facilities lost through mechanical destruction.

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