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Gawande on failure and rescue

The New Yorker, June 5, 2012

The following was delivered as the commencement address at Williams College on Sunday, June 3rd. We had a patient at my hospital this winter whose story has stuck with me. Mrs. C. was eighty-seven years old, a Holocaust survivor from Germany, and she'd come to the emergency room because she'd suddenly lost the vision in her left eye. It tells you something about her that she was at work when it happened—in the finance department at Sears. She’d worked her entire life. When her family left Nazi Germany, they narrowly avoided the concentration camps but ended up among twenty thousand Jewish refugees relocated to the Shanghai ghetto in Japanese-occupied China.