Medicine: Plastic Lane

Six weeks ago a retired janitor named Albert H. Grimes was slowly starving to death in Baltimore's Sinai Hospital. A cancerous growth in his esophagus had blocked off the passageway from his mouth to his stomach. He could eat no solids, and only a thin trickle of liquid was getting through.

In such cases, it is possible for surgeons to cut out most of the tubelike gullet, pull the stomach high into the chest cavity and connect it directly to the back of the throat. Such an operation, however, can take up to seven hours to perform. The chances of 75-year-old Grimes...

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