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My first death

Hey friends, I'm writing this email after getting home from a shift that ended up lasting 14 hours. O
My first death
By Ali Abdaal • Issue #23 • View online
Hey friends,
I’m writing this email after getting home from a shift that ended up lasting 14 hours. One of our patients died tonight. It’s the first time that one of my patients who I was directly looking after has died.
Pam (not her real name) was ticking along pretty well for the past few days, but rapidly deteriorated this evening. We attempted CPR for over an hour before stepping back and allowing nature to take its course.
A nurse and I spoke to the family who arrived at the hospital halfway through our resuscitation attempt. We explained what had happened so far, and that we were doing everything we could to save Pam. This was also, incidentally, my first time ‘breaking bad news’ in real life.
We returned to Pam’s room where we joined the resuscitation team’s efforts. Eventually, and after discussion with our senior colleagues, we decided that Pam was beyond the point of saving and we stopped CPR. We broke the news to the family, and gave them space to say their goodbyes.
I usually like these emails to have little snippets of life advice, but I hope you’ll forgive me that this week’s doesn’t. There are lots of important lessons I’ll learn through this experience once I process everything that happened, but right now it’s almost 1am and I have to be up for tomorrow’s full-day shift in 6 hours time.
Despite the end result, these past few hours have been amongst the most educational of my life so far. I’ll flesh out the thoughts swirling in my head soon and talk about them in a future email or video.
Have a great week!


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Ali Abdaal

Hey friends, I'm Ali, a Cambridge medicine graduate now working as an FY1 junior doctor. I spend most of my spare time making YouTube videos, but every Sunday I send out an email 'newsletter' with some thoughts, life lessons and interesting articles I discover on the internet.

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Ali Abdaal, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, CB2 8RP