On Wednesday night, Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, fell in her office, fracturing three ribs. The news of her subsequent hospitalization was announced early Thursday morning, to the great horror of many. Oh no, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We need you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Please get well soon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg!!!
Ginsburg previously told CNN that she believed she had at least five more years on the court, and indeed, her Energizer Bunny–like perseverance is at this point well-documented. She’s been diagnosed with, and underwent surgery for, cancer twice (colon and pancreatic) without missing a day on the court. And the Washington Post reports that she’s already suffered two broken ribs in 2012, again without taking a day off.
Clearly, she is stronger than most. Still — if possible!! — many Twitter users would like to help her out.
But can you donate your ribs to Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Sort of, like … cut them out and kind of glue ‘em in, or however? Maybe she swallows your ribs and then her own ribs get better, or something like this? Maybe a doctor can make some sort of an external rib vest, of donated Twitter ribs, that she wears? Hmm. It’s an interesting question.
To ease our curiosity and perhaps aid Twitter rib donation, we reached out to a few doctors. First up: Thomas K. Varghese Jr., head of general thoracic surgery at the University of Utah:
In my personal opinion (acknowledging I do not know what the current status of Justice Ginsburg’s medical condition is), I would think that her physicians would want to treat her with known proven methods (mostly conservative, surgical intervention only for specific reasons as outlined in the article), rather than go after experimental options for her rib fractures.
Hmm, okay. That’s one man’s opinion. But what does Justin D. Blasberg, director of robotic thoracic surgery at the Yale School of Medicine, think?
Given advancements in rib-plating technology, the usefulness of rib donation is really limited. At this time, current practice is to either let the ribs heal, to remove ribs that aren’t healing but causing symptoms, or to bridge a rib fracture with metal plates to facilitate healing and improve discomfort associated with a fracture.
Okay … all right … but, ah, well, fine, but what does Gail Chorney, director of NYU Langone’s Orthopedic Center, think???
Donating ribs is not the appropriate treatment for rib fractures. The best treatment consists primarily of pain relief, with supportive therapy. We often give patients with rib fractures some type of pain relief and encourage them to take deep breaths to avoid respiratory complications. For a fracture, receiving a donated rib would likely be more painful than breaking one in the first place!