Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon's Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table

Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon's Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table

by Stephen Westaby


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In gripping prose, one of the world's leading cardiac surgeons lays bare both the wonder and the horror of a life spent a heartbeat away from death

When Stephen Westaby witnessed a patient die on the table during open-heart surgery for the first time, he was struck by the quiet, determined way the surgeons walked away. As he soon understood, this detachment is a crucial survival strategy in a profession where death is only a heartbeat away. In Open Heart, Westaby reflects on over 11,000 surgeries, showing us why the procedures have never become routine and will never be. With astonishing compassion, he recounts harrowing and sometimes hopeful stories from his operating room: we meet a pulseless man who lives with an electric heart pump, an expecting mother who refuses surgery unless the doctors let her pregnancy reach full term, and a baby who gets a heart transplant-only to die once it's in place.

For readers of Atul Gawande's Being Mortal and of Henry Marsh's Do No Harm, Open Heart offers a soul-baring account of a life spent in constant confrontation with death.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465094837
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 06/20/2017
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 582,349
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Stephen Westaby is a pioneer in artificial heart technology and serves as Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. He lives in Oxford, UK.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 The Ether Dome 7

2 Humble Beginnings 17

3 Lord Brock's Boots 27

4 Township Boy 37

5 The Girl with No Name 51

6 The Man with Two Hearts 75

7 Saving Julie's Heart 97

8 The Black Banana 115

9 Domino Heart 135

10 Life on a Battery 153

11 Anna's Story 173

12 Mr. Clarke 193

13 Adrenaline Rush 201

14 Despair 217

15 Double Jeopardy 229

16 Your Life in Their Hands 243

Epilogue 257

Acknowledgments 263

Glossary 269

Index 277

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