KNIFE'S EDGE: The Heart and Mind of a Cardiac Surgeon

KNIFE'S EDGE: The Heart and Mind of a Cardiac Surgeon

PROFESSOR STEPHEN WESTABY    Book Number: 89417    Product format: Hardback

A dramatic head trauma sustained during university rugby was a horrific experience for Professor Stephen Westaby but he emerged from his recovery with the qualities of an exceptional heart surgeon: fearlessness and ruthless ambition. These characteristics combined with his coordination and manual dexterity made Professor Westaby the renowned heart surgeon he is today with accolades including being the first in history to fit a patient with a new type of artificial heart. This book offers a glance behind the operating room curtain through the author's recollections of past work. Admire his tenacity in a Monty Python-esque surgery where an antique machine's heater-cooler system catastrophically failed at the beginning of an operation and how the author had to work under the conditions of a blocked scrub sink, overhead lights with a life of their own, and with sewage leaking through the ceiling from toilets. The chapters promise magic-filled medicine as the author describes temporarily using a centrifugal blood pump to save a 15-year-old girl who needed a new heart and using a cell saver (which would scavenge spilt blood and give it back to her with bacteria and white blood cells removed) on an operation for a young Jehovah's Witness, Megan, who was unable to have a blood transfusion due to her religious beliefs. The memoir meditates on the struggles of the NHS, remembering a letter to the prime minister on 11th January 2018 (9 days after the NHS' 70th anniversary) in which 68 senior consultants representing half of the A&E departments in the country declared that 'patients are dying in hospital corridors amid intolerable NHS conditions'. It also explores heart surgery in different corners of the world, from Harlem, where the author was stabbed in a trauma room by a drug addict, and Hammersmith Hospital where he played Santa Claus at the children's ward, to a rural Chinese hospital where Professor Westaby worked as part of a team of barefoot doctors saving children dying of dysentery after the Cultural Revolution. In a field where failure is public and surgeons walk the line between life and death, Professor Westaby shares extraordinary insights into medicine's cardiac wards. Glossary, 330pp.
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Additional product information

ISBN 9780008285777
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Customer ratings for KNIFE'S EDGE: The Heart and Mind of a Cardiac Surgeon

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from Alan Calverd on 20/04/2021
Utterly readable and absorbing. Some years ago I had the honour and pleasure of working briefly with Prof Westaby, and was instantly impressed with his confidence, enthusiasm and dedication. This book explains why he is an inspiring genius. Maverick? No, the herd is out of step, and The Knife's Edge explains why.