Can You Identify These Famous Fictional Physicians?

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD


August 06, 2018

A Suspicious Postop Trend

Image from Wikimedia

Robin Cook's first novel Coma was published in 1977. The story's main character, Susan Wheeler, is a third-year medical student who, during her surgical rotation, becomes suspicious when several patients unexpectedly become comatose in the postoperative period. Through her covert investigation, Susan uncovers a deadly secret: The patients' comas are the result of someone deliberately tampering with their oxygen lines. She further learns that the "intensive care unit" to which these patients have been transferred is really an organ-harvesting facility. Susan is horrified to learn that the patients are kept alive at this facility until their organs can be sold on the black market for transplant.

While the novel focuses on this abhorrent and unacceptable method of harvesting organs for transplantation—essentially by murder—it also explores many complicated issues associated with brain death and organ donation.[6]

Coma is considered to be one of the best thrillers published in the 1970s. Cook also authored books on other medical issues, including fertility treatment, managed care, and malpractice. In 1978, fellow physician and novelist Michael Crichton transformed Coma into a gripping movie.

The other authors included in this question have all also penned thrillers that were later adapted to film. Michael Crichton is a physician and well known as the author of a number of science and medical fictional books, many of which were later turned into blockbuster movies. Stieg Larsson earned his fame posthumously for his trilogy of crime novels set in Sweden. And finally, Stephen King probably needs no introduction as the author of numerous horror and suspense novels that have terrified readers and movie-goers for decades.


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