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August 7, 1981

My Child Never Cried

JAMA. 1981;246(6):617. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320060023006

My child never cried. He was a 6-year-old black boy. You couldn't really tell how beautiful he was because he was burned over 50% of his body, including parts of his face, but you sensed it anyway. His life was sustained by intravenous feedings, and, because of his age, the extent of skin loss secondary to burn, and the size of his veins, he required a "cutdown" for their administration.

This minor surgical procedure, in which a vein is located under local anesthesia through a small incision and a cannula is inserted therein, had to be repeated frequently because either the cannula would pull out of the vein or it would clog up because his fragile tissues could not support the apparatus. Cutdowns were performed at the bedside by the intern assigned to the Children's Burn Service. That was me.

It was the fourth cutdown I was doing on him,