Dispatches the Ultimate Health-Care Story

DeWayne Murphy, also known as Prisoner 06764-045, won't step outside during winter: the frigid Minnesota air leaves him gasping. His sleep is plagued by night sweats and cramps. "They sent me here to be rehabilitated," he says of the Rochester Federal Medical Facility, where he is incarcerated. "But how can you be rehabilitated if you die?"

He's got a point. Though Murphy is just a first-time felon serving a mandatory four-year sentence for drug possession, the ailing 33-year-old inmate finds himself on a kind of de facto death row; his weakened heart has one-sixth its normal pumping power. He needs a...

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