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In Chapter 12 Jack undertakes the autopsy of Susanne Hard, a woman who died at Manhattan General in the maternity ward after delivering her baby through a cesarean section birth.
Clint, whom Jack dislikes to begin with, nervously watches on and makes a sympathetic remark about Susanne Hard's death being a sorrow to her husband, now a widower with an newborn infant. Jack reacts with violent internal emotion that he can only control by exiting the autopsy room. The narrator describes Jack's reaction as ire at the cliché spoken by Clint when in reality, Clint was being uncharacteristically sympathetic toward the Hard family. Cook uses this exchange to reveal more about Jack's internal personal conflicts by suggesting that Jack knows what it is to lose a spouse while Clint only knows clichés about it.
A knifelike stab of emotion went down jack's spine. ... Abruptly he left the [autopsy] table and exited to the washroom. ... [He] leaned on the edge of the sink and tried to calm himself ... It always irked Jack when he heard such cliches from people who truly had no idea.
Jack progresses with the Susanne Hard autopsy while Calvin, Clint, Vinnie and, eventually, Laurie look on and make attempts to understand and make comparisons to Nodelman's autopsy (the first patient to die from the nosocomial infection acquired at Manhattan General).
When the examination results differ in some particulars from Nodelman's plague-confirmed autopsy, Jack hesitatingly suggests the rare infectious disease tularemia, a suggestion that seems as extreme as the prior day's revelation of plague.
Laurie laughed. ... "That would be pretty rare, although not as rare as your diagnosis yesterday of plague."
The chapter ends with Jack instructing Agnes in the Lab to send tissue samples from Susanne's autopsy to a "reference lab" where highly infectious microbes are routinely and safely handled.
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