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Can miracles happen?

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 07 September 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:553
  1. Richard Westcott, general practitioner (
  1. Devon

    It has happened before. No doubt it will happen again. But this was our first time. As soon as they had returned, they had to show and tell me what had happened. And here I am with the same need.

    As a submarine engineer, Jim used to work among asbestos lagged pipes. It had taken time and effort to get his asbestosis recognised and the appropriate disability pension set up, but with his truculence and some determination from us both, we got there eventually. His wife, Sally, used to be an occupational health nurse.

    I came to know them quite well, and not just through the asbestosis appeal. To start with, Jim found his mother in law difficult. At first, she seemed a sweet lady, but as time went on, I learnt how demanding she could be.

    How do (or should) I, an atheist doctor, respond?

    Meanwhile, Sally continued to suffer from the back injury that had been responsible for her early retirement. All this against the normal background of less serious illnesses, experience with other family members, and that network of …

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