Radiolab
4:00 pm
Sat February 22, 2014

Rodney Versus Death

What do you do in the face of a monstrous disease with a 100% fatality rate? In this short, a Milwaukee doctor tries to knock death incarnate off its throne.

In the fall of 2004, Jeanna Giese checked into the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin with a set of puzzling symptoms ... and her condition was deteriorating fast. By the time Dr. Rodney Willoughby saw her, he only knew one thing for sure: if Jeanna's disturbing breakdown turned out to be rabies, she was doomed to die.

What happened next seemed like a medical impossibility. Producer Tim Howard tells Jeanna's story and talks to authors Monica Murphy and Bill Wasik, and scientists Amy Gilbert and Sergio Recuenco, while trying to unravel the mystery of an unusual patient, and a doctor who dared to take on certain death.

Read more:

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus, by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy

"Undead: The Rabies Virus Remains a Medical Mystery," Wired article by Monica Murphy and Bill Wasik

"Bats Incredible: The Mystery of Rabies Survivorship Deepens," Wired article by Monica Murphy and Bill Wasik

"Study Detects Rabies Immune Response in Amazon Populations," the CDC's page on Amy Gilbert and Sergio Recuenco's work (inc. photos from Peru)

"Selection Criteria for Milwaukee Protocol," when to try the Milwaukee Protocol

Jeanna Giese's website

Guests:Dr. Amy Gilbert, Tim Howard, Monica Murphy, Dr. Sergio Recuenco, Bill Wasik and Dr. Rodney Willoughby

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