Oliver Sacks Passes Away At 82

Posted: Aug 31 2015, 6:30am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


Oliver Sacks Passes Away at 82
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  • Renowned neurologist and author Oliver Sacks died on Sunday due to cancer.
  • He was 82 years old.

Renowned neurologist and author Oliver Sacks died on Sunday due to cancer. He was 82 years old.

The renowned neurologist and author Oliver Sacks has passed away. 

The New York Times' Gregory Cowles confirmed the news on Aug. 30. He died in his Manhattan home. Kate Edgar is his personal assistant. She confirmed to Cowles that Sacks passed away due to cancer. 

Sacks announced in February his eye melanoma spread to his liver. His terminal cancer had already advanced.

He made the announcement via an op-ed essay on The New York Times:

"A month ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out -- a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. 

"Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor in the eye, an ocular melanoma. The radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye. But though ocular melanomas metastasize in perhaps 50 percent of cases, given the particulars of my own case, the likelihood was much smaller. I am among the unlucky ones. 

"I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted. 

"I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written.

"I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

"Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure." 

Sacks was born on July 9, 1933 in London. He spent most of his later years in the Bronx, New York. He liked to stay in shape by swimming in nearby rivers, per Cowles. 

Sacks earned public acclaim for his work with patients such as Madeleine J., Jimmie G. and Dr. P. Madeleine was a blind woman. Jimmie G. was a submarine radio operator who suffered from amnesia. Dr. P. was a man who had issues with his brain and vision, per The New York Times. 

His 1973 book "Awakenings" caught the attention of many. It is about patients with encephalitis in New York City. He gave them the drug L-dopa. The results were mixed. He wrote about the findings in the book, per The New York Times.  

Sacks wrote about aging, amnesia, color, deafness, dreams, ferns, (Sigmund) Freud, hallucinations, neural Darwinism, phantom limbs, photography, pre-Columbian history, swimming and twins, per Cowles.

His other books were "An Anthropologist on Mars," "The Mind's Eye," "Migraine," "The Island of the Colorlind" and "Seeing Voices," per The New York Times. 

Sacks also played the piano. He wrote "Musicophilia" in 2007. It is a book about the relationship between music and the mind. He discovered music can even reach dementia patients. He concluded music is inherent among all human beings.  

He shared this finding with a Columbia University audience nine years ago, per The New York Times:

"I haven't heard of a human being who isn't musical, or who doesn't respond to music one way or another. I think we are an essentially, profoundly musical species. And I don't know whether -- for all I know, language piggybacked on music." 

Sacks leaves behind his partner of six years, Bill Hayes, per Cowles. 


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The Author

Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.




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