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Profile: Lewis Hofmann
Lewis Hofmann was a participant or observer in the following events:
Jonathan Reiner. [Source: GW Medical Faculty Associates]Vice President Dick Cheney’s doctors receive the results of a blood test, which indicate that Cheney is at serious risk of a heart attack, but a subsequent blood test carried out in response to their concerns will show there is no danger and the vice president is in fine health. Cheney has struggled with coronary disease for decades. He has suffered four heart attacks, the most recent of which occurred in November 2000. [New York Times, 10/16/2013; CBS, 10/20/2013] He had a defibrillator implanted just over two months ago. [New York Times, 7/1/2001] Early this morning, at the request of Dr. Lewis Hofmann, his White House physician, a nurse from the White House Medical Unit took a sample of his blood. This was sent to the lab at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, so the results of testing would be available by 5:00 p.m., when Dr. Jonathan Reiner, his cardiologist, is due to meet him.
Test Results Indicate 'a Medical Emergency' - The results turn out to be alarming. Sometime this afternoon, Reiner receives a call from Hofmann, who is with Cheney. Hofmann says that despite the day’s chaotic events, the blood sample made it to the lab and he has received the results of the testing. These show that Cheney’s potassium level is 6.9. A high blood concentration of potassium is called hyperkalemia and a level as high as 6.9 “is a medical emergency because it can lead to cardiac arrest,” Reiner will later explain. [Cheney and Reiner, 2013, pp. 187-188] “Potassium of 6.9 can kill you,” he will state. [CBS, 10/20/2013]
Second Blood Test Will Show that Cheney's Health Is Fine - Incredulous, the cardiologist says there must be an error. Hofmann says he thought this too, but the lab has verified the result. Hofmann asks if Cheney’s defibrillator will protect the vice president but Reiner explains that if Cheney really is hyperkalemic, it will not. Reiner suggests to Hofmann that he take another sample of blood from the vice president this evening and repeat the potassium test tonight. Cheney, though, will refuse to give another sample today (see (Between 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001) and instead provides one early in the morning of September 12. Testing of this sample will reveal that the concern was unwarranted and Cheney’s potassium level is normal. Reiner will explain how he believes the false alarm came about, writing, “[U]ltimately we deduced that the high potassium was simply the result of the prolonged delay in processing the sample, which ensued following the evacuation of the White House.” [Cheney and Reiner, 2013, pp. 188-189, 193-194]
Lewis Hofmann. [Source: C-SPAN]Vice President Dick Cheney refuses to have a blood sample taken, even though tests on a sample he gave this morning indicated that he is in danger of having a heart attack, and he says he will instead give a sample tomorrow morning. [Cheney and Reiner, 2013, pp. 188-189; New York Times, 10/16/2013] Cheney has a long history of heart disease and has suffered four heart attacks. [New York Times, 7/1/2001] Testing of a blood sample he gave this morning showed a potentially lethal level of potassium. If correct, this would mean he has a condition called hyperkalemia, which can lead to cardiac arrest. [New York Times, 10/16/2013] Dr. Jonathan Reiner, Cheney’s cardiologist, asked Dr. Lewis Hofmann, Cheney’s White House physician, to arrange for the potassium test to be repeated tonight (see (Late Afternoon) September 11, 2001). Consequently, while he is accompanying Cheney as the vice president is being flown by helicopter to Camp David (see Shortly After 10:00 p.m. September 11, 2001), Hofmann passes Cheney a note, informing him that he needs to provide another sample of blood. Cheney, though, refuses to do so. “Not tonight, Lew, you can have it in the morning,” he says. Whether he is aware of the results of the test on his blood sample from this morning and the possible danger he is in are unstated. [Cheney and Reiner, 2013, pp. 189] Reiner is seriously concerned about Cheney’s health. “I laid awake that night… watching the replays of the [Twin] Towers come down and now thinking that, ‘Oh great, the vice president’s gonna die tonight from hyperkalemia,’” he will later recall. [CBS, 10/20/2013] Fortunately, testing of the blood sample that Cheney provides on the morning of September 12 will show that the vice president’s potassium level is normal and the earlier test results must have been erroneous. [Cheney and Reiner, 2013, pp. 193-194]
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