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“Humans have had to face death and mortality since since the beginning of time, but our experience of the dying process has changed dramatically in recent history.
Haider Warraich, a fellow in cardiology at Duke University Medical Center, tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that death used to be sudden, unexpected and relatively swift — the result of a violent cause, or perhaps an infection. But, he says, modern medicines and medical technologies have lead to a “dramatic extension” of life — and a more prolonged dying processes.
“‘We’ve now … introduced a phase of our life, which can be considered as dying, in which patients have terminal diseases in which they are in and out of the hospital, they are dependent in nursing homes,’ Warraich says. ‘That is something that is a very, very recent development in our history as a species.'”