Louisville Medicine Volume 69, Issue 5 - Page 18

Reviewed by John D . Kolter , MD


Reviewed by John D . Kolter , MD

Left When Nothing Goes Right is local author Chad Donohue ’ s recently published memoir recounting his wife ’ s difficult pregnancy with monochorionic and monoamniotic ( momo ) twins and their subsequent prolonged stay in the NICU . Momo twins are identical , share the placenta , but have separate umbilical cords .

Mr . Donohue takes the reader through the tenuous and complex pregnancy , the urgent and premature delivery of his twin sons , and the twin ’ s six month stay in the NICU . His story , and that of his wife , Ryann , is one of remarkable distress , perseverance and shared superintendence of their family . The point of view is clearly that of a family member of critically ill patients and is an opportunity for the physician to reflect on what patients and their families experience . The book is a compelling read , however , for both those medically trained as well as the non-Aesculapian . In retelling the story , now 10 years on , Mr . Donohue also recounts and celebrates the skill and determination of the local physicians who cared for his children throughout their experience . He presents an evocative text conveying a deeply personal story that effectively bears witness to the challenges and rewards of living through a medical trauma .
Left When Nothing Goes Right is authored in a distinctly casual style , though embodying an undeniably heavy topic . Mr . Donohue has an everyman sense of humor and he conveys it well in his book . A child of the 1970s and 1980s , he shares humorous memories , anecdotes and pop culture references throughout . However , his humor is clearly both a part of his personality and also a survival technique , as his humor holds a consistent place in the more emotionally raw reprinted blog posts that he shared with family and friends throughout his sons ’ six month stay in the NICU . Mr . Donohue warns the reader , in a nod of self-deprecation , that he isn ’ t writing a classic , he isn ’ t aiming for literary quotables and , “ This book is not Moby Dick .”
However , Mr . Donohue achieves a memoir that is both emotive and eminently readable to all walks of life . While this description could distinguish his book as a “ beach read ,” and Mr . Donohue may appreciate the pop culture reference , that would describe it incorrectly . Mr . Donohue presents a story that is too personal , honest and outwardly reflective to relinquish any of its stature to the designation of a “ beach read .” Despite an often jocular tone , the vicissitudes of his story elicit a level of inward reflection in the reader that elevates the text beyond any preconceived saltwater designation .
Momo twins are rare . Mr . Donohue writes early in the book , after receiving the unexpected news of a twin gestation at his wife ’ s first ultrasound appointment , of the incredible odds . Momo twins are less than one percent of identical twin gestations and the odds are 1 in 750,000 of conceiving this type of twin . However , the fetal mortality rate quoted to him and his wife was 50 %, attributable to frequent cord entanglement in momo gestation . Mr . Donohue writes of the awe of “ Powerball ” odds , but the crushing blow of the mortality rate . As his wife ’ s pregnancy progresses and she is moved to the antepartum unit on bedrest , Mr . Donohue guides the reader through an oft unfamiliar situation by providing a touchstone to which nearly all can relate . Mr . Donohue relies on this technique often , and quite effectively , throughout the memoir and in this instance he recounts a fond memory from his teenage years . At sixteen ,