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Doctor Describes the Miracle of Taking a Breath

In his book, Every Deep-Drawn Breath, Critical Care Doctor Wes Ely explores the ordinary miracle of taking a breath.

We take for granted our ability to breathe. We do it again and again, one breath after another, without thinking. Yet the lungs are incredibly complex, the respiratory system made up of so many different actors, structures, and functions. Cells with hair like projections called cilia move fluid, goblet cells secrete mucus, and column-like cells line and protect. Our lungs have cells that are integral parts of our nervous system, lymphatic system … and immune system. They contain cartilage, elastic tissue, connective tissue, muscle, and glands, and all of this gives rise to a system of airways that is 1500 miles long, from New York City to Dallas, and filters every ounce of air entering the body.

Dr. Ely feels so much admiration for the simple process of taking a breath that he compares it to how “an artist admires a Rembrandt [painting], the way the light, the colors, the brushstrokes all work together to create something more.”

Source:

Dr. Wes Ely, Every Deep-Drawn Breath (Scribner, 2021) p. 50

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