Thomas Morris (2017)

A book that I very much enjoyed, but that simultaneously made me quite anxious: if I had a heart condition it would have been unreadable, I suspect.

The operations chosen are all milestones, ranging from the very first surgeries up to heart transplants, stents, and other modern semi-miracles. The most interesting thing to me was the degree to which a lot of the action was performed in very small communities of doctors, often with very varying degrees of commitment and risk appetite: the same surgeons often re-appear in later innovations.

The part that was most anxiety-inducing was that the translation from idea to successful implementation (or from science to engineering) was frequently log, drawn-out, and filled with dashed hopes and dead patients. I don’t think it could be any other way given the complexities of the procedures being honed, but the names of the early subjects deserve to be at least as well-known as those of the surgeons, for their willingness to take a risk with their own lives in the interests of saving themselves, but also of eventually saving others eben if their own surgery failed.

4/5. Finished Friday 28 April, 2023.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)