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Place Where a Whistle-Blower Can Catch His Breath

--It’s not Shangri-La, but to Michial Patric Thompson and others like him, “The Whistle Stop” is a paradise, of sorts. Thompson is a whistle-blower--someone who exposes fraud perpetrated by companies on their Defense Department contracts. The need for a special retreat can be better understood if one considers that many whistle-blowers suffer harassment from co-workers, loss of jobs and homes and deep depression--notwithstanding the Senate’s recent backing of legislation that provides whistle-blowers with greater job safeguards. So, “The Whistle Stop,” started by Donald R. Soeken, a Maryland psychiatric social worker, nestled in the mountains of southeastern West Virginia, offers Thompson counseling and a relaxed environment. “I still wake up nights wondering how I’m going to afford to get the kids new shoes or a new pair of pants,” said the 35-year-old Indiana father of four who lost his job, his home, his friends--and his confidence. “Here, at least, I can stoke up the wood stove while I wonder and not have to worry about my family’s safety or look over my shoulder every time I go out.” His problems began after he told U.S. inspectors in January, 1987, about falsified papers relating to the military’s Hummer general purpose vehicle.

--For 107 days, Jack Fisher has been kept alive with an electric blood pump while he awaits a heart transplant. And, in the process, Fisher, a 46-year-old bond salesman from New York, has become a medical pioneer. On Saturday, Fisher, a patient at Presbyterian-University Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pa., surpassed the 106-day record held by a Houston patient before he received a human heart. Fisher, who is eagerly looking to the day when he receives a human heart, said: “It’s not a record I want to break.” The device, known as the Novacor pump, does not require the removal of the patient’s own diseased heart and is intended to keep people alive while they await transplants. Fisher said he doesn’t mind the constant clicking of the pump. “If this stops clicking, I’m in trouble,” he said.


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