Recent Posts by Judith Harvey

Will I still be me?

Would you have a face transplant? If a dog had ripped off your nose and cheeks and lips, would you be able to learn to live with the damage, or would you be keen to consider taking on someone else’s face? Perhaps the issue that raises most anxiety is the question of identity. Psychologist Diana…
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Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?

A 1980s cult advertising campaign posed sharing your tube of cheap caramels as an existential crisis. A 21st century version of the dilemma involves higher stakes. Would you offer one of your kidneys to a member of your family? To a friend? To a stranger? The first successful living donor kidney transplant was performed in…
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Synaesthesia – a multisensory experience

  I first met Jane Mackay when she had just returned to London after two years as a volunteer teaching paramedics in Papua New Guinea. Later, when I was a mature medical student, I was able to spend a couple of weeks at her practice in Walworth, one of London’s roughest areas, and her enthusiasm…
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How would you cut the NHS budget?

The NHS budget is going to be cut. Recently the Today programme asked for money-saving ideas. Here are some suggestions. Remember that health is a not a commodity and keep the market out of it. Professor Michael Sandel made the argument elegantly in the 2009 Reith lectures. Do not let direct advertising of prescription medication…
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An Imperfect Offering

In 1999 James Orbinski went to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Médecins Sans Frontières. Born in Britain and brought up in Canada, it was at medical school that he found a focus for his nascent humanitarianism. And immunology captured his interest. Immunology led him to HIV, and HIV – this…
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Is there such a thing as informed consent?

A patient and a doctor lying hand in hand on the operating table. That was what came to my mind as I browsed ‘Consent: patients and doctors making decisions together’, the GMC’s new guidance. Consent, it rightly says, is a process, and obtaining it is a partnership. But ultimately the dialogue has to come to…
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Climate change can seriously damage your health

Almost a third of those who responded to a recent BMJ poll thought that climate change is not a matter for doctors.  Had the doubters been at the Royal College of Physicians’ conference on climate change in January, they could not have escaped the impact it will have on health. Global warming is creating an…
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The spirit catches you and you fall down

During its war in Vietnam, the USA fought a secret action against the communists in Laos. The CIA recruited the aid of the Hmong, one of Indochina’s hill tribes with little love for the Pathet Lao. Their participation cost the Hmong their lands and livelihoods, and many took advantage of American promises of reward in…
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Reading for pleasure and profit

In 1989, Iona Heath, an inner city GP in London, applied for study leave to spend three months reading novels. The Department of Postgraduate Education turned her down, but she took the three months off anyway and says it changed her life.  The experiences of characters in fiction resonate with  our own experiences, and those…
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