Medicine: Survival for $25,000

At 29, Don Shevlin was just two months away from taking his oral exams for a Ph.D. in English at U.C.L.A. Today, two years later, he has neither the degree nor any prospect of a teaching job. Says he: "I see myself as perennially pauperized."

Shevlin suffers from chronic kidney disease, an incurable type that necessitated the removal of the organ. Now, in order to prevent a fatal buildup of toxins in his blood, he must report to the university hospital three times a week for kidney dialysis, a six-hour cleansing process that enables...

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