Author Allan Fotheringham cheats death

In his new memoir, Boy From Nowhere: A Life in Ninety-One Countries, Allan Fotheringham recounts a shocking tale of alleged medical malpractice.

By Charlie Smith, November 16, 2011
When he shuffles into the lobby of the Wedgewood Hotel, Allan Fotheringham looks much smaller than I expected him to be. The famous newspaper columnist and author appears to have lost a lot of weight since he was a panelist on the CBC’s Front Page Challenge show in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s a bit shocking to realize that Fotheringham, once one of the sharpest, wittiest, and most energetic members of the Ottawa press gallery, seems now to be a slow-moving senior. But as soon as the former back-page columnist for Maclean’s sits down in the bar and looks me in the eye, I see that familiar flash of intelligence, irascibility, and humour.

His new memoir, Boy From Nowhere: A Life in Ninety-One Countries (Dundurn), includes a shocking tale of alleged medical malpractice involving a routine hospital colonoscopy in 2007. So I begin by asking him about this. “I’m glad to talk about the fucking medical profession,” he declares defiantly. “I went in for 48 hours and came out five months later. I weighed 170 pounds when I went in. I weighed 115 when I came out.”

Fotheringham, 79, claims that someone at the hospital in Toronto pushed the wrong button. What happened next will shake anyone’s confidence in the health-care system. “They took the remains of my bowels and put them in my lungs,” he says. He then holds up his finger and thumb close together before swearing, “I was this far from gone.”


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