The Pulse of a Brain Surgeon's Patient

A "noise" is no longer an annoyance when it serves a purpose. Brain surgeon James Killefer of Knoxville, Tenn., likes the simple sound in the operating room of the patient's pulse amplified by a special machine. It reminds him that the patient is what it's all about.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

A noise is no longer an annoyance when it serves a purpose. Today's listener sound clip finds an importance in a noise heard in his workplace.

JAMES KILLEFER: My name is James Killefer. I'm a neurological surgeon in Knoxville, Tennessee at the University of Tennessee.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

KILLEFER: In my occupation, I do brain and spine surgery. The sound that I find compelling at my work is a very simple sound in the operating room. It's the sound of the pulse oximeter that measures the rate of the pulse.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

KILLEFER: In the 21st-century operating room, there are lots of noises. There are drills...

(SOUNDBITE OF DRILLING)

KILLEFER: ...suctions...

(SOUNDBITE OF SUCTIONING)

KILLEFER: ...all sorts of machines, people talking - there's a lot of ruckus.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRILLING)

KILLEFER: Sometimes, I just like to have everybody stop talking, and I'd like to turn all the stuff off, even pinch the suction off and just listen to that simple sound, beep, beep, beep, beep.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

KILLEFER: It's the simple sound of life that reminds us that we're there for the person in front of us, not there for all the technology and ruckus around us.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEEP)

NORRIS: Brain surgeon James Killefer of Knoxville, Tennessee, with his sound clip.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: