R.I.P. Lia Lee

Ever since Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down came out in 1998, Lia Lee, the epileptic child of Hmong refugees, has been the most famous cautionary tale in America of the cultural gap between patients and their doctors.  After a short life lived almost entirely in a vegetative state, Lia Lee passed away at the end of last month.  The New York Times has a brief summary of her experience caught between two radically different understandings of her condition, and the impacts of her case on medical training and hospital policy.

Lia Lee in 1988
(c) Anne Fadiman via The New York Times

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