Posts Tagged ‘University of Minnesota’

Reading a good book!

January 13, 2009

A new book landed on the doorstep last week! Usually I don’t mess with hardbacks – they are too hard to read in bed – but this one was a must have book for me. Titled Pioneers of Cardiac Surgery, this was written by Dr. William Stoney, himself a heart surgeon at Vanderbilt. I’ve only read 50 pages but I can already recommend the book highly!

Since Cardiac Surgery is such a new specialty, most of the book consists of interviews with some of the heroes of the field. This book grew out of an Oral History of Heart Surgery project at Vanderbilt, and Stoney edited out the “question and answer” format originally used, making each chapter flow smoothly. It’s almost as if you are sharing a cup of coffee with the surgeon, and asking him about his job! The first chapter is a pretty detailed overview of the history of heart operations, meant to include those doctors who have already passed on. I’ve been pleased to see photos of Dr. Vincent Gott and Dr. Alex Haller, both surgeons during my stay at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Frequent readers may remember that Haller was supposed to perform my first heart operation but was not available due to the weather; Gott stepped in for him.

Another interesting book for anyone interested in surgical history is King of Hearts: The True Story of the Maverick who Pioneered Open Heart Surgery. For a while there were only three places in the world performing heart surgery, and two of them were in the state of Minnesota. This book tells the story of Dr. Walter Lillehei and his work at the University of Minnesota. Lillehei developed the idea of using another living person as a “heart lung machine” for a patient – a situation that could have led to the deaths of two people if something had gone wrong!

Yet another good look inside the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery field is Walk on Water: Inside an Elite Pediatric Surgical Unit which features Dr. Roger Mee and his staff at the Cleveland Clinic. Alas, this team no longer exists; Mee has retired to his native Australia and other members have gone their own ways.

Stanford University, New York City, and the country of South Africa are our destinations for the book Every Second Counts: The Race to Transplant the First Human Heart as Dr. Christiaan Barnard pulls off the impossible. His patient dies 18 days later, but time has proven that his effort was worth it.