Thicker Than Water by Tyler Shultz

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I have no idea how this ended up on my audible account, but I’m trying to clear out my entire collection and listen to every single thing i have before I buy more stuff. I keep saying I’ll do this, maybe one day I won’t be a liar. I don’t know how many of my SFF readers also read non-fiction, but I’ll review these anyway just for fun.

So, perhaps some of you will remember a news story that broke a while back about a new blood testing machine that boasted it could test hundreds of conditions with just a few drops of blood. Well, that never happened, and this is the story of the “why”. It’s written by a whistleblower from within the company, Tyler.

The concept was using “nano-tainers”, very, very small containers to store the smallest amount of blood possible, and use that as the samples for testing rather than taking huge amounts of blood and having to run each test individually. The idea was to take just a few drops, pop it into this magic machine, and viola, a hundred or so tests all run at once, all accurately, cheaply, and provides quality results.

The company name was Theranos and I provided a Wiki link if you want to read more in depth. But, basically, this company had high-stakes investors and it was kind of like a snowball effect. The founder, Elizabeth, was able to weasel her way in to the inner circle by befriending this author’s grandfather. Once she had his approval, many other high stakes bidders went in on a 500 million dollar investment that should have been revolutionary. So, Tyler’s grandfather was a major figure in old school republican politics, people like Reagan and Nixon. He said that one day protestors were giving George W. Bush a hard time and he had to cancel a speech and so he ended up in his backyard just chit-chatting with his grandfather because he happened to have an opening in his plans and happened to want to go sit with his grandfather. It sounds like a really wild upbringing.

Once Elizabeth made her way into his grandfather’s good graces, she gave him a job at the company, and this ultimately led to her undoing. Everything turned out to be fraud from the very start. Tyler clearly remembers starting his new job at the company and everyone was joking about how shoddy and unreliable the lab equipment was. There were jokes going around about just how unreliable the tests were, but things became not funny when these machines went out into the real world and started negatively affecting actual patients. She was running demonstrations in public with these machines, and implying that the results she was getting was from the machine while in reality an intern would run the sample to an actual lab and bring back the results for the crowd/conference. It was just textbook fraud through and through. This book basically just goes into the details of how he broke the story, the threats he received, the inner workings of this kind of a circle, and some other medical stuff that was just interesting to know.

I found it to be accessible and interesting, and if you’re in the medical field this might be of more interest to you than the general public.