When soldier needs an aorta or else he could be paralyzed. And when another soldier is brain dead but still alive, they have to decide if they should remove his aorta to save the other and they only have 20 minutes to decide.



, (as Walter D. Dishell M.D.) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

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Episode cast overview:
Kevin Brophy ...
Helicopter Pilot
Jo Ann Thompson ...
Nurse Jo Ann (as Joann Thompson)


Walter Dishell, M.D. (the medical advisor for M*A*S*H) co-wrote this episode with Alan Alda. An impromptu poker game at the chopper pad is interrupted by George, a patient who arrives from Battalion Aid with a purported open chest wound. Hawkeye diagnoses him with respiratory distress, too much gushing blood and a lacerated aorta. George may not even make it to OR unless drastic measures are taken. The pilot hands over his pocket knife; Hawkeye makes George's wound big enough to stick in his hand. Hawkeye wants to compress George's aorta against his spinal column to stop the bleeding. The biggest problem is if blood to the spinal cord is cut off for more than 20 minutes, George stands a good chance of paralysis or renal failure. Time is called: 1432 hours; a white clock appears at the bottom right of the TV screen. Hawkeye yells out for vascular clamps, his canvas tub, arterial grafts, ice and AB- blood. The clock ticks and ticks. There is no AB- blood. Margaret cannot find the clamps... Written by LA-Lawyer

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

pleading with god | real time | See All (2) »


Comedy | Drama | War





Release Date:

26 November 1979 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone Sound Recording)


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This episode is portrayed in real time, with the elapsed time marked by an on-screen clock shown throughout most of the story. See more »


Pierce asked for a canvas bathtub but had to sell it at the end of Season 7, Episode 6: None Like it Hot. See more »


Capt. B.J. Hunnicut: His name was Harold.
Hawkeye: Who was?
Capt. B.J. Hunnicut: The guy the aorta came from.
Hawkeye: [beginning the transplant] Harold, meet George, George, this is Harold.
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References The Iceman Cometh (1960) See more »

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User Reviews

Mike Farrell's Best Performance Ever!!
10 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The following episode from the 1979-1980 television season would be one of the top four episodes ever in that campaign. Captains Hunnicutt and Pierce were involved in the most serious episode in saving a patient who lost an aorta. Major Houlihan -- starring Loretta Swit -- played a key role in this episode -- too -- in the fight against time from death because of acute renal failure or being paralyzed in the horrific situation. The three of them told the helicopter pilot that twenty minutes stood between life and death after they approach surgery. Mike Farrell's role in removing the aorta -- for the graft -- involved conflict with another wounded patient. His partner could not understand why the patient was more important than his own well-being; moreover, an eighteen-year-old was dying from a sever head wound within ten to twenty-two minutes. Anger, conflict, spontaneity, determination, diligence, and worthiness were key elements in preventing the patient from dying after twenty minutes. The program should have rated at least a 14 out of 10; moreover, the description of fitting the graft in the surgery was a key factor in that show. Both Mike Farrell and Alan Alda did quite well in the fight against time. Way To Go!! Another must see episode!!

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