Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table

open heart

Format: Dead Trees

Source: Goodreads Giveaway

Rating: 4.5

As someone who has a CHD (congenital heart defect) my interest was pretty high in this book.  When if came up for a GoodReads giveaway I was pretty stoked.  I have won many books from Goodreads and was so excited when I won this one.

I have L-TGA L-Transposition of the Great Arteries, the easiest way I have learned to explain it is what is supposed to pump in, pumps out.  I also have an artificial mitral valve (St. Jude).  But it is only Mitral valve by location because it works as a tricuspid valve because, well I flow backward.

valve My valve turns 30 this year!

So now done with the back history onto the book review.  Westaby comes across somewhat cocky.  But through his writing it made sense.  He wasn’t as much cocky as someone who pushed to make a change in people’s lives.  “Cardiac Surgery is like quicksand – once in it, you were sucked deeper and deeper.”  Westaby recounts many of his cases.  as true with all of life, some of these stories are not a happy ending.

Parts of this book may be a little hard to understand as Westaby throw out lots of terms.  But it is nothing that a little Google searching cannot remedy.  Westaby talks of putting in Heartmate pump that helps people with heart failure.  He talks of the noise that it makes.  “But patients get used to that.  Like mechanical heart valve patients get used to the tick, tick, tick, tick in the dead of night.”  As someone with a mechanical heart valve, I would have to agree we do get used to the noise as a part of everyday life.  It is a necessary evil!

Not all of the cases are of saving the day heroism.  Some of these cases despite everything the doctors did the patient still died.  I did enjoy learning about heart pumps and it is great that people have been able to live with them for many years.





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