Open Heart: The Radical Surgeons who Revolutionized Medicine

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9781607144908: Open Heart: The Radical Surgeons who Revolutionized Medicine

A bold and remarkable history, “The Right Stuff” for the giants of heart surgery who performed medical feats once thought impossible

Esteemed heart transplant surgeon Dr. David K.C. Cooper has literally been on the cutting edge of medicine, having been a member of the team that performed the first successful heart transplants in the United Kingdom, and overseeing the heart transplant program at the University of Cape Town Medical School in South Africa, working under Dr. Christiaan Barnard. Open Heart tells the story behind the amazing advances in cardiovascular medicine as performed by the maverick doctors who strived to perfect them. Having interviewed many of the greatest heart surgeons in person during the past 20 years, this book benefits from the emption and excitement of these surgeons' own words. These men affect everyday lives even more than the early astronauts, who, like these surgeons, had “the right stuff.” But who were they? What drove them to perform the feats they did? Beginning with Claudius Galen, second century A.D. physician to Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and his observations of fallen gladiators, to the major 20th century innovators, Open Heart tells the stories and highlights from the careers of the greatest heart surgeons, including Christiaan Barnard, Denton Cooley, Michael Debakey, and many others. Because of these bold and brilliant physicians, blue babies no longer die at birth, young people can live well into old age, and damaged organs can be transplanted with healthy ones.

Dr. Cooper transforms himself as well, from heart surgeon (and colleague to many of the surgeons profiled in the book) to historian/storyteller as Open Heart portrays the remarkable doctors who have saved the lives of so many others.

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About the Author:

David K.C. Cooper, MD, PhD, FRCS, is a heart transplant surgeon and researcher. He completed his medical education at the University of London, then trained in general surgery and heart surgery in the U.K. with periods of research at Harvard, Cambridge, and London. In the late 1970s, he was a member of the team that performed the first successful series of heart transplants in the U.K. In 1980, Dr. Cooper was appointed to the faculty of the University of Cape Town Medical School in South Africa, where he had responsibility for the heart transplant program under Prof. Christiaan Barnard. In 1987 he moved to Oklahoma City, where he continued his work in heart transplantation and research, and later accepted a research appointment at Harvard Medical School. During this time, he began meeting the pioneer surgeons who make up the personalities profiled in his book, Open Heart. Dr. Cooper has published almost 500 medical and scientific papers and chapters, and has edited or co-edited six major textbooks. He holds three doctorate degrees, and is a fellow of both the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the American College of Surgeons. He is now director of a research group at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he also is a professor of surgery.

From Publishers Weekly:

Calling his book an "oral history," heart surgeon and author Cooper credits a handful of pioneers who have transformed heart surgery as we know it. From Robert Gross and Clarence Crafoord, founders of modern cardiovascular surgery, to the African-American operating room technician Vivien Thomas, a dropout who helped develop a lifesaving operation for oxygen-starved babies, the innovations chronicled here reveal the extraordinary spirits of more than two dozen exceptional men. Cooper, utilizing lengthy interviews with many of the doctors, recounts the breakthroughs with pride, awe, and just the right amount of "dish," such as when he tells of Floyd John Lewis, a "bohemian" doctor who performed the first open heart operation only to later walk away from medicine to become a writer and painter. C. Walton Lillehei, we're told, was a bold open heart surgeon but possessed such rotten financial skills that he nearly sank his career. In short, these pioneers are simultaneously average and exceptional and, in Cooper's careful hands, always accessible. (Oct.)
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