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Saturday, January 30, 2016

"Gifted Mind" (Jeff Kinley with Dr Raymond Damadian)

TITLE: Gifted Mind: The Dr. Raymond Damadian Story, Inventor of the MRI
AUTHOR: Jeff Kinley with Dr Raymond Damadian
PUBLISHER: Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2015, (240 pages).

There have been great medical advancement through the centuries. Sometimes, many of us have taken the advancement for granted, oblivious to the many years of research, hard work, and brilliance behind each medical procedure we benefit from, each pill we swallow, and each medical equipment we use. One such equipment is the Medical Resonance Imaging (MRI) equipment. From TV shows to real life hospitals, many people have heard of or benefitted from the use of the MRI to detect cancer or obtain some form of assurance about the presence of normal cells in our body. What about the origins and history of the MRI? Who started the whole process going? What are the milestones of the invention of this great device? Are there any controversies? Dr Raymond Damadian, a doctor working at New York's Downstate Medical Center in 1971 discovered how certain chemical signals in cancerous body cells react differently from normal cells in that the former contains more water. All it takes then is to develop a machine to detect the additional hydrogen atoms that linger in cancer cells.

This book is a biography of the inventor of the world's first MRI machine, Dr Raymond Damadian, whose sole purpose of all his work is to seek the truth. His fierce commitment toward this drives his passion to use whatever he know to learn about the best of science, medicine, and himself. In doing so, he believes that he would have learned the secret of how these inventions teach him about the Creator of the world. He admits that his motives are not pure all the time. There are times in which his search is lacking in purpose or energy. It was those times that led him to recognize that God is the One who sought him out.

Damadian is the second child of a father from France and a French-Armenian mother. They settled in New York in 1906. Damadian was influenced greatly by two teachers, Brandwine in Science and Manheim in Trigonometry. He got a full scholarship to study at the University of Wisconsin and he enrolled in Pre-Med school. Influenced by the evangelist, Billy Graham, he came to Christ in 1957. That moment would soon put him in a constant conflict between science and faith. He admits that he has not set out to invent a machine, only a desire to want to do something about cancer. He specializes in internal medicine for he believed that it deals with the entirety of medicine. With his chemistry know-how and analytical skills, he is able to interact constructively with various people who helped hone his research. His curiosity about the human being as a "walking electrical plant" was a trigger point to direct his research toward designing something that could interact with this. He traces a long journey in his research, showing us that no one invention is the absolute work of just one person. Behind every invention, there are multiple levels of human interactions. Spurred by a comment from a Dr Bricker that whoever can correctly identify and isolate the "sodium pump" will win the Nobel prize, Damadian felt poise to take up the challenge. From this one single idea, the brilliant man moved from one discovery and interaction to another. His capacity for grit and determination spurred him on. Determined to find the difference between NMR signals from cancerous cells and normal cells, he also wants to develop something that is non-invasive (unlike the X-Ray) to human tissues. His landmark paper presented in 1971 got a Dr Olson interested. Very soon, companies, funds, and rising interest enable him to continue his research.

The book traces his fascinating journey from idea to an innovative machine that detects cancerous cells and tissues. Apart from the technical explanation of the workings of the MRI, the construction of the engineering systems can range from fascinating to intimidating. Throughout the book, Damadian acknowledges the many different kinds of assistance made available to him. Many of these individuals believe in him and his work. The first prototype, the Indomitable was built in 1977. Damadian credits the perseverance to God as there are many setbacks he had to endure. He has to deal with people stealing intellectual property. Thankfully, his registered patent protected him a great deal. Even then, he had to sue the giants such as Johnson and Johnson, General Electric, Hitachi, Siemens, and others, whenever there are patent infringement situations. At one time, GE offered him $80million as a compromise, but Damadian stood firm, believing that doing so would mean compromising his person integrity. He was also disappointed at not winning the Nobel prize, and describes his emotions and frustrations over the mysterious deliberations of the committees involved. There is even an accusation that the will of Alfred Nobel was violated! Yet, Dr Damadian received other forms of recognition, like the United States Medal of Technology in 1988.

Damadian is an amazing inventor. By telling his side of the story, readers will be able to get a sense of the whole MRI story from his perspective. Most importantly, there is a faith element that motivates him to excel and to research for the truth. Along the way, he encounters the nasty setbacks of betrayal, thefts, and the distractions of lawsuits, all of which became a part of his journey toward becoming wiser and more appreciative of God's hand behind him and his team. Every good work will raise eyebrows. Every potential invention that could rake in lots of money would be the focus of envy and unethical behaviours from others. This is a story of Damadian and his journal of his invention of the MRI. Though much of the book are technical, readers would begin to appreciate that great inventions often have to travel through many challenges and setbacks. Being an inventor is not simply a scientific achievement. One needs to be able to satisfy the requirements for patent registration. One needs funding and friends to help find the money when needed. One needs legal knowledge and expertise in order to tackle the giant corporations that had deeper pockets. One also needs to continued perseverance and belief. For Damadian, it was his faith that pulled him through.

While it is arguable whether Damadian is or not the first person to come up with the theory behind the MRI, he is the first to develop the machine. With all the controversy happening over the many parties wanting to claim credit for the MRI, it is crucial that readers go back to the fundamentals such as patent rights, initial documented discoveries, and the testimonies of actual people and patients. It is also telling about human nature, how one great invention could lead to all kinds of people wanting to grab a piece of the lucrative pie. This book tells it all as frankly as possible from the perspective of Damadian. Not everyone could have done what Damadian had achieved. That is the reason why he had that "gifted mind."

Great story!

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Master Books and Cross-Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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