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December 8, 1989

Sacks of Potatoes

Author Affiliations

Grand Forks, ND

Grand Forks, ND

JAMA. 1989;262(22):3137. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430220060030

Chris was a 71-year-old farmer from Hoople, North Dakota, in the heart of the Red River Valley farm country. A sign at the edge of town proclaimed it "The Potato Capital of the World." We first met at 4 o'clock on a frigid February morning after his transfer from a small rural hospital.

He underwent emergency surgery to repair a stomach rupture leaking into his chest. His incision extended from his back around the left side of his chest to an area below the nipple. Chris recovered, but later required resection of his left costal margin because of infection. This second incision extended from his xiphoid process, paralleling the costal margin to connect with his initial incision below the nipple. A final scar in the outline of a hockey stick was thus created. Indeed, in a state where the sport of hockey reigns supreme, Chris and I often referred to