book hack

Death of the Good Doctor

Kate Scannell

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

From the frontline of the AIDS epidemic, these are the unique memories and thoughts of Dr. Kate Scannel, the pioneering doctor fighting stigma, a deadly virus, and death.


Death of the Good Doctor

Death of the Good Doctor

by Kate Scannell


In the 1980s, an unknown virus was tearing through communities. Once diagnosed, you had three months before your body shut down and you died. This is what doctors faced with the discovery of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS.

With the contraction of AIDS, the immune system becomes severely compromised. Opportunistic infections become life-threatening. For years, there was no treatment and no cure, only societal shock as AIDS claimed more and more victims.

In Death of the Good Doctor: Lessons from the Heart of the AIDS Epidemic, Dr. Kate Scannel recounts her work in an AIDS ward. As a pioneer in AIDS research, Scannel describes the early years of the epidemic, when science had no answers to the virus.

Scannel intimately highlights the people she compassionately treated and how they changed her, contemplating and revealing how to humanely comfort the terminally ill and, ultimately, how to live when death is all around you.

Favorite quote

For the first time, we wondered if AIDS might become a chronic treatable illness. After ten years of preparing people to die, we began preparing them to live.

- Kate Scannel, M.D.

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