Life-Saving Medicine with Sanjay Gupta

Cheating Death

To purchase a copy of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's new book, Cheating Death, click here!

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent and author of Cheating Death, joins The Doctors to discuss life-saving medicine!

Cheating Death
On September 14, 2002, 60-year-old Bob collapsed while refereeing a high school football game. His heart stopped for two-and-a-half minutes before he was ultimately revived and brought back to life.

Bob recounts his near-death experience. "It was very peaceful. It was very serene," he says. "[It was] extremely bright, and, some folks call it a tunnel, but for me it was more like a halo coming into focus. Did I have an out-of-body experience? I don't know. I
was watching the paramedic work on me, and he was very close working on me. I was watching him, yet he didn't acknowledge me, and I was thinking that if I opened my eyes, that was a good sign, but he didn't acknowledge me, so what was going on here?

"And then I remembered our grandson, who was with me at the time, 9-year-old Alex," Bob continues, "I had a choice, that way or this way. And Alex needed me and I started yelling Alex's name, and that's all I remember."

Moment of Death

E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork explains what happens to your body when you die, and The Doctors and Dr. Gupta discuss three of your most vital organs.

• Dr. Gupta goes inside one woman's near-death experience.

Dr. Gupta wrote the book Cheating Death and says that science can explain some of the sensations from near-death experiences. "Some have said that as the blood [flow] starts to diminish to the brain, the retina, the back of the eye is one of the first things that is affected, and that controls your peripheral vision," Dr. Gupta says. "So you start to lose that peripheral vision and people will see a tunnel, the bright light, sort of for the same reason."

But, Dr. Gupta concedes that after talking with Bob and others who have had near-death experiences, some things cannot be explained.

"It's sort of that perfect intersection of science and spirituality that I was just absolutely fascinated by," Dr. Gupta says.

Dr. Travis and Dr. Gupta demonstrate the Invos Oximeter, which measures oxygen saturation in the brain. See how a defibrillator can save your life.

Freezing Time
If you go into cardiac arrest, can hypothermia actually save your life? Dr. Gupta tells the story of how being in a hypothermic state actually kept one woman alive.


Dr. Travis and Dr. Gupta demonstrate the latest in life-saving CPR techniques.

"She is doing great [now]," Dr. Gupta says. "What is most amazing about her is that she is now a practicing physician in the same hospital where she was once declared dead."

Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears tries on the CoolBlue body suit, which cools the body by mimicking hypothermia, which decreases the body's demand for oxygen. Cooling the body can delay death and save lives.

"The thing about it that's amazing," Dr. Gupta says, "is that if you simply cool somebody down after a cardiac arrest, and you do it quickly, the chance of survival goes up by almost 500 percent. Cardiac arrest is still the biggest killer of men and women in this country. These things make a huge difference."

H1N1 Virus
President Obama has declared the H1N1 flu outbreak a national emergency, and Dr. Gupta has first-hand experience of what the virus can do. Not only has the medical correspondent been covering the H1N1 flu story for CNN, he also contracted the virus.

"It's interesting, because I don't get sick very often," Dr. Gupta says. "But I remember the cough. That was probably the most memorable thing about this. This is one of those examples where I think doctors are the worst patients, because I thought it was anything but H1N1 when I first got sick. When I had that high fever and I got really lightheaded, that's when I got checked out and got tested."

Getting the H1N1 flu vaccination is important to prevent contracting the virus in the first place. Find out everything you need to know about the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines.

Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears blogs about the H1N1 vaccine.

The vaccine is recommended for the following people:
• Pregnant women
Anyone with underlying, chronic illnesses (see list below)
Caregivers for infants under 6 months
Healthcare workers
Children ages 6 months to 24 years old.

Chronic health conditions:
Certain medical conditions place people at greater risk for the flu, so if you have any of the following conditions, consider getting both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccine:

Heart or lung disease
Kidney disease
Morbid obesity
Sickle-cell anemia
Cerebral palsy
Muscular dystrophy

The Doctors and Dr. Gupta say that the vaccine should be mandatory for healthcare workers. "It's not just about the person getting the shot," Dr. Gupta says. "It's also about all the patients that we see and treat."

Because he has had the disease, Dr. Gupta no longer needs the vaccination, but he advocates that others do get it. "It's a tough way to get vaccinated," he says. "I would much rather have had the shot. That was a couple of miserable days."

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OAD 10/28/09