In the tradition of The Right Stuff comes the true story of four men locked in a race to transplant the first human heart--a riveting tale of surgical daring, unyielding ambition, and scientific adventure.
Many people remember the beaming face of Christiaan Barnard, the South African surgeon, after he performed the first human heart transplant, and captured the world's imagination. It was a stunning achievement, but he was not alone. In truth it was a four-way race, a fierce struggle fraught with passionate rivalry. The other three surgeons-Adrian Kantrowitz, Norman Shumway, and Richard Lower-were giants in the field, and by early December 1967 they and Barnard were each poised to snatch the victor's laurels. Each had spent years perfecting techniques that would lead to a successful heart transplant; each had monitored his chosen patient's condition, watching the clock, hoping a donor would be found in time.
Some of these men were friends; others were enemies. Only one of them would be the first.
From a dank, underequipped hospital in Cape Town to a cramped lab in San Francisco, the surgeons worked their own individual miracles to prolong their patients' lives, testing the limits of science, and nature itself. Like the classics of medical adventure-from James Watson's The Double Helix to John Barry's The Great Influenza-Every Second Counts is an unforgettable story of not only competition and fame, but of life and death.
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Donald McRae is the only writer to have won Britain's prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year-called by some "the sports Booker"-twice, for Heroes Without a Country: America's Betrayal of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens and Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. Although Christiaan Barnard (who died in 2001) is venerated as the first to successfully transplant a human heart, on December 3, 1967, McRae shows that he was only one of four heart surgeons who pioneered this miraculous specialty from 1958 through 1968. The South African Barnard hadn't toiled in research labs, but, according to McRae, appropriated the work of three Americans and, in a period of debate over whether to define death by the brain's or the heart's cessation, he took a beating heart from a brain-dead donor. McRae portrays Barnard as a rural Afrikaner with an inferiority complex, a "lothario" with a deeply troubled personal life and a publicity hound who delegated postoperative patient care to others as he hobnobbed with celebrities and the media. As McRae, an award-winning London-based sports writer (Heroes Without a Country: America's Betrayal of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens), demonstrates in this top-notch journalistic feat that elucidates complicated medical procedures, the Americans whom Barnard bested were medical giants. Norman Shumway in California and Richard Lower of Virginia were masters of transplant and rejection research, and New York's Adrian Kantrowitz would eventually develop the balloon pump that saved hundreds of thousands of lives. (June 1)
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