Released From the Jar

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PARIS: French journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby used to liken his paralysis to being "a working brain kept in a jar. " That was until the publication last week of his 137-page book, "Le scaphande et le papillion" ("The Diving Suit and The Butterfly), which the onetime chief editor for Elle wrote by using his still functioning left eyelid to blink out wor ds to an assistant. But for Bauby, his escape from the hated "jar" came too late. He died Sunday night in a hospital outside of Paris at the age of 44; the cause of death was not announced. It was an anticlimatic end to a life based on sheer willp ower. Injured in a car accident just over a year ago that left him unable to speak, eat or move unassisted, a condition known as Locked-In Syndrome, Bauby refused let the accident defeat him. Working with therapists, he devised a system of communi cation with his left eyelid based on the frequency of letters used in French words. After a short time, Bauby could blink his way through any conversation. He set up the Locked-In Syndrome Association, an organization that tries to help those who suff er from the condition and their families. But the ultimate challenge lay in remaining active as a writer and editor. Working in three-hour daily sessions, he blinked more than 200,000 times, according to Paris Match, to create "Le scaphande et l e papillion," an account of the flight of a butterfly escaped from captivity inside a building. Hailed as a masterpiece for its depiction of the communications barrier faced by paralysis victims, the book has sold widely since its release last Frida y.