A Single Degree of Freedom: An Exploration of Faith, Love and Loss in a Medical Practice
When an aging, agnostic physician encounters a young woman in the emergency room who is dying of respiratory failure; their relationship leads to an intense examination of faith and ethics in modern medicine. The friendship that develops between patient and physician is based on their shared Catholic background. Ethical conflicts develop as her disease becomes terminal and she requests a painless death. The ethical, legal, and emotional consequences for the physician are explored in the final chapters. A Single Degree of Freedom is a fictional account of what happened after the death of Sarah who spent over two and a half months in the hospital. Her physician stands accused of not only assisting her death but also of having an inappropriate relationship with her. The story from the Boston papers ran this lurid headline: "Mercy Killing- Doctor's Assisted Suicide of His Lover." As he sits before the Medical Board fighting for his reputation and his practice of over thirty-five years, he must also face his medical student daughter who questions what really happened and why! A Single Degree of Freedom is written in the form of a letter to his daughter allowing him to explain his relationship with Sarah and what ultimately caused her death.
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