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    Monday, May 25, 2009

    Could Doctors Today Have Saved Lincoln's Life?

    Could Doctors Today Have Saved Lincoln's Life?
    Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 25 in 2009). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action. Memorial Day, prior to the rest of the wars, was a day celebrated by Civil War veterans as a day special for them.

    The most important casualty of the Civil War was Abraham Lincoln.On April 14, 1865, Lincoln was shot in the back of the head by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. The bullet from Booth's derringer stopped behind Lincoln's left eye. Army assistant surgeon Charles Leale, who was at the theater, cared for Lincoln and found a blood clot at the back of the president's head.

    Physicians used brain decompression, but within 10 hours, Lincoln was dead.

    "The state of the art that they offered him was brandy, water and probing the wound," said a physician who reviewed medical records from Lincoln's physicians.

    He added that Lincoln's frontal lobes were spared, preserving sections that handle emotions, language and problem-solving. Thus with rehabilitation, the president would have improved and may have been able to communicate.

    If the shooting happened now, Lincoln would be airlifted to a trauma center for a CT scan and medications to reduce effects of brain swelling.

    Surgery would be done to lessen pressure and remove accumulated blood.

    Doctors also would work to prevent additional brain damage.

    But Lincoln would have had a difficult time returning to a normal presidency."If Lincoln had survived, he would have been in such bad shape, says one doctor, that there would have been a long, long rehabilitation."

    At the time, it should be noted; there was no provision for replacing a disabled president. It wasn't until 1967 that the 25th Amendment was ratified to address transfer of power from the president.

    He would have had a long recovery and would have had to endure a long rehabilitation while in office to regain some of his abilities. Experts say Lincoln would be left with residual dyslexia and vision problems.

    Could crucial post Civil War America survived the long rehabilitative period without a strong hand at the helm?


    But look what they got instead.

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