The patient's blood pressure had reportedly crashed in the ambulance; a gunshot wound had damaged the heart. In the operating room, a medical resident, Dr. Dan Hashimoto, slid a knife into the patient's chest and sliced horizontally, from the sternum across the torso.
He thrust his hand into the gash, grasped the beating heart and squeezed, to the tempo of 100 beats a minute.
Noticing bleeding from the right ventricle, Dr. Hashimoto stopped pumping to sew up the hole. The pulse recovered, and blood pressure climbed.
Concerned there might be more bleeding in the belly, Dr. Hashimoto moved to stop blood flow to the aorta. He struggled a bit to position the clamp.
"Remember your anatomy," the attending physician, Dr. Marc de Moya, advised over Dr. Hashimoto's shoulder.
Moments later, Dr. de Moya pronounced the procedure a success.
Yet no one's life had been saved. Dr. Hashimoto, a third-year-resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, had been practicing what is known as an emergency department thoracotomy on a rubber and plastic dummy that — but for the fact that it did not have a head — felt and acted remarkably like a human body.