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Doctor, Author Oliver Sacks Dead At 82

Dr. Sacks — whom millions knew as the physician played by actor Robin Williams in the 1990 film “Awakenings” — revealed in February that he had terminal cancer.

An amazing doctor, writer and human being is gone:

Oliver Sacks, the world-renowned neurologist and author who chronicled maladies and ennobled the afflicted in books that were regarded as masterpieces of medical literature, died Aug. 30 at his home in Manhattan. He was 82.

Dr. Sacks — whom millions knew as the physician played by actor Robin Williams in the 1990 film “Awakenings” — revealed in February that he had terminal cancer. A rare and long-ago-treated ocular tumor had metastasized to his liver, he wrote in the New York Times, which was one of several publications, along with the New Yorker magazine and the New York Review of Books, that printed his writings over the years.

His death was confirmed by his longtime assistant, Kate Edgar.

An Englishman who made his life in America, Dr. Sacks devoted his career to patients with rare, seemingly hopeless conditions of the nervous system. He distinguished himself both in the clinic and on the printed page and was often called a “poet laureate” of modern medicine.

His books, many of which were bestsellers, generally took the form of clinical anecdotes. A man who mistakes his wife for a hat, an artist who can no longer see in color, a hospital full of patients gloriously, but fleetingly, “awakened” from years-long catatonia: In each case, Dr. Sacks sought to uncover some wisdom, medical or moral.


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