When my fiercely independent friend died

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 28 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6428
  1. Maria Barnard, consultant in diabetes and endocrinology, Whittington Hospital NHS Trust, London N19 5NF, UK
  1. maria.barnard1{at}

A year ago, my friend David died. He loved books, music, art, and travel, and he was a dab hand at using the internet. He was admitted for elective resection of a rectal carcinoma. Postoperatively he developed bilateral pneumonia, acute kidney injury, and sepsis. He died 11 days postoperatively aged 87 years. At his funeral, one of his close friends said, “He should never have had that operation … never.” I wonder whether she was right.

Society worries about the growing medical and care …

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