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79-Year-Old Declared Dead but Catches Second Wind

January 10, 1988|ANN CONNORS

"I ain't ready to go yet," 79-year-old Frank Smith declared in making a miraculous recovery after hospital personnel had pronounced him dead and had even begun cleaning up his room. "He had no pulse, no blood pressure, no heart tones, no breathing, no movement. . . . And he was cold to the touch," said Dr. Eric Pacht at University Hospitals in Columbus, Ohio, where Smith had been hospitalized for emphysema. "He was just as dead as anyone I've ever seen." Pacht and the hospital staff disconnected Smith's life-support system and began cleaning the body and the room. But after 20 to 30 minutes, "He did a little hiccup, and we all jumped back. It startled me," Pacht said. "I've never seen anything like it." Smith's family, which had been devastated when told of his death, was elated. "It had to have been a miracle," said the patient's son, Frank Smith Jr., 55. Pacht said Smith's revival may be related to great swings in the ratio of oxygen to carbon monoxide in the patient's blood caused by the emphysema. "He's sort of adjusted to the derangements in the gases," Pacht said.

--Former President Richard M. Nixon turned 75 on Saturday, and getting it all down on film was enfant film maker Christopher Cox, Nixon's 8-year-old grandson. The affair, a small family gathering at the Nixons' Saddle River, N.J., estate, was punctuated by a call from President Reagan extending birthday wishes to the former chief executive. Dinner was Italian, with two kinds of pasta and chicken Marsala. And recording the event for posterity was Christopher's movie camera, which the son of Tricia and Edward Cox had received as a Christmas present.

--He was just an average Joe, which was why U.S. News & World Report picked out Dante Hooker of Rochester, N.Y., for a years-long series of stories about the attempts of one U.S. public school district to implement educational reforms. Dante, 10, whose academic progress will be closely watched over the next few years, was chosen because he is representative of many of the children in the district, in which more than half the students are black and a majority are from low-income families, said Jerry Buckley, a senior editor at the magazine. But Dante's teacher, Barbara Nielander, said he was probably selected for another reason: He likes to talk. Among the reforms instituted by the Rochester district has been a dramatic increase in teacher salaries--to $40,000 a year--and a greater teacher accountability for what goes on in classrooms.

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