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Dialysis patient works magic with music

Sandra Blake, R.N. (left), and Heather Lakin, L.N.A. (center), are a few of the many appreciative audience members for the regular informal "concerts" presented by dialysis patient Donald Jackson.
Photo: Flying Squirrel Graphics

When we walk hand in hand
The world becomes a wonderland,
It's magic.
How else can I explain
Those rainbows when there is no rain,
It's magic. . . .

The lyrics above were made popular by Doris Day in the 1948 film Romance on the High Seas. Today, they (and the sweet sounds of other love ballads) are popular in a very different venue. Periodically, a velvety male voice floats above the background chatter and the whirr of machinery in DHMC's dialysis room. Patients smile. Nurses applaud. It's magic.

For the past seven years, Dartmouth-Hitchcock dialysis patient Donald Jackson has been treating people to his rendition of tunes made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, and Doris Day. He's not a professional crooner. He's had no formal training. He doesn't even read music. He just loves to sing.

To everyone's delight, Jackson performs in the dialysis room three times a week. That's how often he comes in for treatment. He usually begins singing as he's finishing up his four-hour session on the dialysis machine and preparing to return to his home in St. Johnsbury, Vt. But he's been known to break into song in the middle of a treatment, too. And he can often be heard singing his way through the halls of DHMC as he travels around in his motorized wheelchair. He even admits to singing from the rooftops—but that was when he was much younger and living in Brooklyn, N.Y., he says.

Yes, indeed, music is surely magic.


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