Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"The Cutting"

James Hayman spent more than twenty years as a senior creative director at one of New York’s largest advertising agencies.

He applied the “Page 69 Test” to his new novel The Cutting, and reported the following:
The Cutting introduces readers to Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe, a former New York City homicide cop, who has moved with his young daughter to the supposedly safer confines of Portland, Maine. At least that’s what McCabe thought before he was called in to investigate the brutal murder of a sixteen-year-old girl who’s heart has been cut from her body with surgical precision.

On page sixty-nine McCabe is questioning Dr. Philip Spencer, a cardiac surgeon and head of the heart transplant program at nearby Cumberland Medical Center. He’s trying to find out if the murder might be part of an elaborate conspiracy to obtain and sell black market organs for illegal transplant procedures.

Spencer tries to convince McCabe that such a thing would simply not be possible.

Here’s what we learn on page sixty-nine:

...he (Spencer) said in a considered voice, “but who’s going to perform the transplant, and where? Any recognized transplant center would be crazy to even think about it. So would a qualified surgeon. The operation can’t be done by a surgeon acting alone, no matter how skilled or experienced, and it can’t be done on a kitchen table. When I transplant a heart, there are ten to twelve specialized people in the OR. All critical to the procedure. Plus a lot of sophisticated equipment. Most important is a heart- lung machine and a perfusionist to run it. The heart- lung machine circulates and oxygenates the patient’s blood and keeps him or her alive between the time the sick heart is removed and the healthy heart goes in and begins beating.”

“What else is required?”

“What else?” Spencer shrugged. “A diagnostic lab to perform preop and post- op tests. A well- stocked blood bank. A facility for postoperative recovery and one- on- one care for at least a few days. You need an array of monitors. You need someone to prescribe and administer antirejection drugs and to watch the patient for signs of infection due to a compromised immune system. You need to be able to follow a fairly rigid postoperative protocol. I just don’t see how some kind of
rogue surgeon could put all that together on his own.”

How long is a living heart viable after it’s harvested?”

“Not long. Four or five hours. Our heart in New Hampshire will be placed in an iced saline solution in an ordinary picnic cooler, put on a helicopter, and flown directly here. While that’s being done, we’ll remove our patient’s diseased heart and attach him to the heartlung machine until he receives his new heart. It’s all very tightly coordinated.” Four or five hours. Terri Mirabito estimated Katie’s time of death as forty-eight to seventy-two hours before Lacey found her in the scrap yard. Since her body was found around 8:00 p.m. Friday, a transplant would have to have taken place sometime between 8 00 p.m. Tuesday and 8:00 p.m.Wednesday. Twenty- four hours. A big window.

“How long does a transplant operation take?”

“Depends how complicated. Anywhere from four hours to a whole day.”

McCabe resisted the temptation to ask Spencer where he was between Tuesday night and Wednesday night. Or Thursday while the body was being dumped. He had no evidence whatsoever that
Read an excerpt from The Cutting, and learn more about the book and author at James Hayman's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue