Gerry Rafferty Unstuck from the Surly Bonds of Earth

Stuck in the Middle with You singer, Gerry Rafferty, 63, has died after having been put on life support, including kidney dialysis, at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital for multi-organ failure back in November, 2010. The Scottish singer-songwriter had struggled with alcoholism for over two decades.

Alcoholic liver disease is the leading cause of end-stage liver disease in the U.S. and Europe. Alcoholic liver disease can be treated with liver transplantation but this remains somewhat controversial because some people feel that alcoholism is a “lifestyle choice,” not a disease, and that alcoholics have “wasted” their livers therefore don’t deserve another. What do you think?

Mr. Rafferty was, apparently, a candidate for a liver transplant. Up until the time he died, his doctors were hoping that his condition would stabilize so that he could be transferred to London under the care of Professor Roger Williams, a liver specialist (hepatologist), who has supervised liver transplants for other patients, notably Northern Irish professional soccer (football) player George Best in 2002.

Mr. Rafferty’s death reminded us of the poem High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. We’ve included it below in memory of Gerry Rafferty.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds…and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of…wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space…
…put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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