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The trauma cleaner : one woman's extraordinary life in death, decay & disaster / by Sarah Krasnostein.

  • Krasnostein, Sarah
  • Books

About this work


It's not the police, firefighters, or EMTs that clean up a crime scene--that's the job of a trauma cleaner, specifically Sandra Pankhurst. Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife ... But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less. A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years. A man who bled quietly to death in his loungeroom. A woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion. The still life of a home vacated by accidental overdose. Sarah Krasnostein has watched the extraordinary Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to these, the living and the dead--and the book she has written is equally extraordinary. Not just the compelling story of a fascinating life among lives of desperation, but an affirmation that, as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together.


Melbourne, Australia : Text Publishing, 2017.

Physical description

261 pages, 12 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits (chiefly color) ; 24 cm

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (page 261).


Longlisted for Wellcome Book Prize 2019



  • English

Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    History of Medicine
    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 9781925498523
  • 1925498522