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The Struggle To Save John

topic posted Fri, June 16, 2006 - 6:55 PM by  Unsubscribed
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I read an interesting article in Guitar World recently. I thought I'd share it with everyone. It's written by a guy named Christopher Scapelliti.

Twenty-five years ago, Frank Veteran was chief resident in surgery at Roosevelt Hospital on New York City's west side. At 30 years old, he was in his fifth and final year of surgical training. Between the pressures of medical school and his job, he'd had little time to keep up with current events, let alone the comings and goings of his childhood heroes.

"I was into the Beatles, and I followed them," says Veteran. "But by the time I was the chief resident in surgery, I wasn't listening to them anymore. I was too busy. I didn't even realize that John Lennon lived in New York City."

One of three chief residents at Roosevelt, Veteran was on call for emergencies every third night. There, he attended to the routine injuries of city life: "Gunshot wounds, stab wounds. You wouldn't have to be in the hospital all the time, but if anything happened, you'd have to come in and take one of the younger residents through the procedure. When you were chief resident, you were the primary head doctor. You ran the whole show.

On the night of December 8, 1980, the show was unlike any Veteran had seen before.

He'd spent the evening at his girlfriend's apartment, on 10th Avenue, across from the hospital. Around 11 o'clock, as they were getting ready for bed, his beeper went off. "They said, "We have a gunshot wound to the chest," I asked,"What's the status of the patient?" They said,"Well, Dr. Halloran ~ one of the younger residents ~ "is opening his chest." I said, "Well, if Dr. Halloran is opening up his chest, you don't need me."

Opening the patient's chest is a last resort, performed when the heart has stopped and the patient is unlikely to live. "But they said to me, 'No, we need you now!'"

Puzzled by the call, Veteran dressed quickly, took the elevator down to the lobby and ran across 10th Avenue to the hospital. As he walked upstairs and down the hall to the emergency room, he encountered a pair of nurses. "One of them looked at me and said, John Lennon." I looked at them and thought, John Lennon? What does John Lennon have to do with it? It made no sense to me. It was so ridiculous that it didn't even register."

As Veteran entered the ER, the significance of the nurse's remark became vividly clear. "I walked in, and there was John Lennon, on the table, with all these people around him." Just minutes earlier, Lennon had been shot while returning with his wife, Yoko Ono, to their home at the Dakota, a luxury apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Bleeding heavily, his vital signs quickly ebbing, Lennon had been sped to the hospital by officers who responded to the shooting.

"Standing there, suddenly, everything just hit me," says Veteran. "For some reason, I thought of John Kennedy and Jesus Christ [I'm not on dangerous ground here, am I Mike?] It was just a weird thing that flashed in my head."

The doctors had already been trying to resuscitate Lennon. "His chest was open," Veteran says. "They were doing everything to save him."

He stepped up to the table and took a grim assessment of the patient. Lennon had been shot four times from the left at point blank range with a .357 magnum revolver. Two bullets had passed through his upper left upper arm and entered his chest; two more entered his chest just behind the arm. Travelling through his torso, they ripped through his lungs and arteries. Three of the bullets exited the front of his chest: one under his left clavicle and two on the left side of his sternum. The fourth remained lodged inside his body.

According to Veteran, the worst injury was to Lennon's subclavian artery, a major branch of the aorta, the heart's main artery: "He was bleeding heavily." For 20 minutes, Veteran and his associates worked to get Lennon's heart beating again.

"Once your heart stops, you have five minutes, basically, to resuscitate it before lack of oxygen causes brain injury," says Veteran. "So how long does it take to get from the Dakota to Roosevelt Hospital, get into the emergency room, get stripped, get your chest open? Well, it takes longer than five minutes."

Lennon's heart never beat again ~ "And had we got it going, he would have been brain dead. It would have been a disaster anyway."

Veteran recalls a conversation he had with an officer on the scene at the Dakotas. "He said the last evidence of any life was a groan when they put him in the backseat of a police cruiser."

At 11:15 pm, Lennon was pronounced dead. Chief medical examiner Dr. Elliot M. Gross said after the autopsy that Lennon died of shock and blood loss and that no one could have survived more than a few minutes with such injuries. (THE END)


Much too young; too too sad. D.T.
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  • Re: The Struggle To Save John

    Sat, June 17, 2006 - 1:00 AM
    It still breaks my heart. I wrote a letter to Yoko Ono at the time. I did not have her address so I sent the letter to my uncle) who lived in Brooklyn at the time. He said he would get it to her somehow. It took a few days before he could send it for me but he did. I got a thank you letter from Yoko 3 1/2 years later. She apologized for taking so long (can you imagine her apologizing to me?) and telling me that she really only got to my letter that day. There had been such an outpour of letters since John died. She thanked me for writing to her and asked that I keep his memory alive. Which I have. A few years ago when they were talking about letting Mark Chapman leave the hospital/prison he is in for day trips I got another letter from her (or her people) asking me to write to the hospital and newspapers and the prison board to not let this happen.
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      Re: The Struggle To Save John

      Sun, June 18, 2006 - 8:48 PM
      I loved what you wrote Robin! That was sweet. And it's done more to redeem Yoko Ono in my eyes than anything else I've ever read in print! Very nice lady!
      • Re: The Struggle To Save John

        Wed, June 21, 2006 - 5:09 PM
        Thank you. I think that because of the breakup of the Beatles, Yoko was demonized. But there was a reason that John loved her and she loves him still. That has to be taken into consideration in order to be true to John's memory.

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