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Surgeon Who Warned Giamatti Erred

September 06, 1989|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — A surgeon says he made a mistake in warning Bart Giamatti that the baseball commissioner's hands indicated possible pulmonary disease. He said the hands he saw during a televised game were those of another man.

On Aug. 20, Dr. William G. Cahan, a senior attending surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, saw Giamatti on his 45-inch TV screen at a game between the Mets and Dodgers.

Cahan, 76, a lung cancer specialist, thought he saw Giamatti's fingers. He noticed the person had "clubbing" of the fingers--the fingernails were curved up from the sides and the front. Among the diseases associated with clubbing of the fingernails are lung cancer and emphysema.

Cahan contacted American League President Bobby Brown, who relayed a warning to Giamatti that he should have a chest X-ray. Giamatti died Friday of a heart attack.

On Tuesday, Cahan reviewed videotapes of the scene at the studios of WNYW in New York. He said he realized that the hands that triggered his alarm were those of the man seated behind Giamatti.

"I'm sorry about the confusion this may have caused concerning Dr. Giamatti, but I think our main aim now is to find that man so that he can benefit from this information," Cahan said.

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