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  • Published: 1 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241506318
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $32.99

Life Support

Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the Covid Crisis

  • Jim Down



A powerful, moving account of an intensive care doctor's life on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a doctor running the intensive care unit at one of London's top hospitals, Jim Down has spent his life working as healthcare's last resort, where the unexpected is always around the corner, and life and death decisions are an everyday occurrence.

But nothing had prepared Jim and his team for the events of spring 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic descended. In Life Support, he tells the extraordinary month-by-month story of how as the nation came to a standstill, he and his colleagues donned PPE, received an unprecedented influx of patients, transformed their hospital and took on the biggest challenge in the history of the NHS.

The pandemic raised difficult questions for Jim: how do you fight a new disease? How do you go home at night to your wife and young children when you've spent all day around highly infectious patients? How do you tell a mother that her healthy young son has died, only days after falling ill?

With warmth, honesty and humour, this book is a gripping, moving testament to the everyday heroism of the NHS staff in a global crisis, and an unforgettable insight into what was really happening in the wards as we clapped on our doorsteps.

  • Published: 1 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241506318
  • Imprint: Viking
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $32.99

Praise for Life Support

'An extraordinarily frank book laced with humour and self-deprecation'

The Times

'Down is an ideal narrator ... three quarters of the way through Life Support I start weeping'

Tanya Gold, Daily Telegraph

'Jim Down's Life Support is essential reading for everyone who has been affected by Covid-19, which is to say everyone. Beautifully written, it combines warmth, humour and science to give a portrait of one of the most important but least understood parts of any hospital by one of the UKs pre-eminent ICU physicians'

Dr Chris van Tulleken

'One of the doctors with the most hands-on experience of Covid in the country'

Edward Docx, New Statesman

'An honest and engaging eye-witness account of the Covid crisis from one of London's busiest intensive care units, that demonstrates the compassion and dedication of frontline staff dealing with a terrible new disease. It should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand why our lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic'

Fergus Walsh, Medical Editor BBC

'Life Support immediately transported me back to those early days of uncertainty, the growing fear as the waves lapped our feet, and then the frantic struggle to stay above water as the tsunami broke. The reader will learn a deal more about intensive care units and the jobs of the people who work there. But this book is far from a technical manual. It is a human narrative - and an important one'

Hugh Montgomery, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine, UCL and author of <i>Control</i>

'I can't think of a more important and compulsive book to come out of the Plague Year. Read and weep with gratitude for the NHS and doctors like Jim Down'

Rachel Johnson

'Reading this, I felt humbled. Written with great clarity, as well as humour and compassion, this is an extraordinary account of life on the Covid frontline, of the expertise and the dogged, unending labour of those who attempt to keep the rest of us - however sceptical we are, however careless - alive'

Lissa Evans, author of <i>V for Victory</i>

'This is the struggle against COVID-19 unfolding in real time ... it is a story of how some of our most gifted and dedicated medical practitioners have been brought to the very edge of their abilities and endurance and how they came through, scarred but wiser ... above all it is a very human story about how people - medics and patients alike - found common cause in the face of a nasty speck of a disease that threatens our way of life'

George Alagiah

'A deeply moving and beautifully written account of what life was truly like for our frontline ICU teams during the first wave of COVID-19'

Dr Kevin Fong

'Deeply affecting - a personal memoir that grips, harrows, inspires and, ultimately, uplifts with its vein of deep humanity'

Philippe Sands

'Reading Life Support, I was gripped, amazed, appalled and, ultimately, inspired. If Jim Down is as good a doctor as he is a writer, I'd definitely want him treating me'

John O'Farrell

'Brought me to tears'

Financial Times

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