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Suspense over magician David Blaine's upcoming feat

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By Bob Groves
9/19/2008 (1 decade ago)
McClatchy Newspapers (

The Record (Hackensack N.J.) (MCT) - David Blaine, the magician who has been buried alive and encased in ice, now plans to let fame go to his head, with the help of a North Jersey physician.


By Bob Groves
McClatchy Newspapers (
9/19/2008 (1 decade ago)

Published in TV

Blaine will hang upside down 50 feet above Central Park for 60 hours Monday through Wednesday.

In previous stunts, Blaine, 35, held his breath more than 17 minutes in a water tank, perched for hours on a pillar and spent 44 days suspended in a transparent box in London.

Dr. Massimo Napolitano, chief of vascular surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center, is advising Blaine on the toll hanging upside down might take on his body. He discussed the stunt with The Record:

Q: Don't people who practice yoga sometimes stand on their heads?

People in India will do it for hours, but not for 60 hours.

Q: What happens to your body when you're upside down?

A lot of things can happen. It's called reverse physiology. The pressure in the veins in your head increases, especially the pressure in your eyes. There's a risk of having swelling of the brain and clots in the veins of the eyes.

Q: Could you have a stroke?

You could, but first you'd pass out. You could become blind.

Q: What internal organs are affected by hanging upside down.

The kidneys and lungs. With the kidneys, we have urine pushed into the bladder by tubes called ureters. Those ureters will have to push against gravity and you could have some swelling. Three days should not cause damage but could cause cramps, like a kidney stone.

You're going to have most of the blood pooling in the upper part of the lungs, which is usually the part we breathe mostly from. I understand Mr. Blaine has done incredible things, prolonged immersions, so his body knows how to compensate for that.

There was some concern regarding the blood going to and from his feet upside down. But in a healthy person, the body should be able to compensate.

Q: What is the biggest danger?

My biggest concern for him is possible clotting in the veins of his eyes, causing blindness.

Q: How will he urinate?

He will have a system to collect urine in a bag, connected to a condom.

Q: What about eating?

He has gone 44 days without eating, so he'll only be drinking.

Q: What about swallowing?

I believe he'll be able to straighten out to drink in the harness he'll be in.

Q: How can Blaine hold his breath for long periods and perform other abnormal feats?

Like the gurus in India who do yoga, you can control bodily functions by concentration and mind over matter. He must have found a way to reduce his metabolism. Obviously, he has to be an overall healthy person and he needs to train. You don't wake up one morning and say, "I guess I'll hang upside down for three days."

Q: Are you doing this pro bono?

Nobody mentioned anything about being paid. But this is very intriguing from a scientific point of view. I wish I could monitor a lot more things on him to see how his body reacts, how his heart is pumping, how blood is circulating. Dr. Richard Ruden will definitely be monitoring him for blood pressure and an EKG. There could be some helpful physiological information gained from this. Obviously nothing this extreme has been done in a healthy adult.


© 2008, North Jersey Media Group Inc.


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