Hot Best Seller

When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon

Availability: Ready to download

At the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Joshua Mezrich creates life from loss, transplanting organs from one body to another. In this intimate, profoundly moving work, he illuminates the extraordinary field of transplantation that enables this kind of miracle to happen every day. When Death Becomes Life is a thrilling look at how science advances on a grand scale to improve hum At the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Joshua Mezrich creates life from loss, transplanting organs from one body to another. In this intimate, profoundly moving work, he illuminates the extraordinary field of transplantation that enables this kind of miracle to happen every day. When Death Becomes Life is a thrilling look at how science advances on a grand scale to improve human lives. Mezrich examines more than one hundred years of remarkable medical breakthroughs, connecting this fascinating history with the inspiring and heartbreaking stories of his transplant patients. Combining gentle sensitivity with scientific clarity, Mezrich reflects on his calling as a doctor and introduces the modern pioneers who made transplantation a reality—maverick surgeons whose feats of imagination, bold vision, and daring risk taking generated techniques and practices that save millions of lives around the world. Mezrich takes us inside the operating room and unlocks the wondrous process of transplant surgery, a delicate, intense ballet requiring precise timing, breathtaking skill, and at times, creative improvisation. In illuminating this work, Mezrich touches the essence of existence and what it means to be alive. Most physicians fight death, but in transplantation, doctors take from death. Mezrich shares his gratitude and awe for the privilege of being part of this transformative exchange as the dead give their last breath of life to the living. After all, the donors are his patients, too. When Death Becomes Life also engages in fascinating ethical and philosophical debates: How much risk should a healthy person be allowed to take to save someone she loves? Should a patient suffering from alcoholism receive a healthy liver? What defines death, and what role did organ transplantation play in that definition? The human story behind the most exceptional medicine of our time, Mezrich’s riveting book is a beautiful, poignant reminder that a life lost can also offer the hope of a new beginning.

*advertisement

Compare

At the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Joshua Mezrich creates life from loss, transplanting organs from one body to another. In this intimate, profoundly moving work, he illuminates the extraordinary field of transplantation that enables this kind of miracle to happen every day. When Death Becomes Life is a thrilling look at how science advances on a grand scale to improve hum At the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Joshua Mezrich creates life from loss, transplanting organs from one body to another. In this intimate, profoundly moving work, he illuminates the extraordinary field of transplantation that enables this kind of miracle to happen every day. When Death Becomes Life is a thrilling look at how science advances on a grand scale to improve human lives. Mezrich examines more than one hundred years of remarkable medical breakthroughs, connecting this fascinating history with the inspiring and heartbreaking stories of his transplant patients. Combining gentle sensitivity with scientific clarity, Mezrich reflects on his calling as a doctor and introduces the modern pioneers who made transplantation a reality—maverick surgeons whose feats of imagination, bold vision, and daring risk taking generated techniques and practices that save millions of lives around the world. Mezrich takes us inside the operating room and unlocks the wondrous process of transplant surgery, a delicate, intense ballet requiring precise timing, breathtaking skill, and at times, creative improvisation. In illuminating this work, Mezrich touches the essence of existence and what it means to be alive. Most physicians fight death, but in transplantation, doctors take from death. Mezrich shares his gratitude and awe for the privilege of being part of this transformative exchange as the dead give their last breath of life to the living. After all, the donors are his patients, too. When Death Becomes Life also engages in fascinating ethical and philosophical debates: How much risk should a healthy person be allowed to take to save someone she loves? Should a patient suffering from alcoholism receive a healthy liver? What defines death, and what role did organ transplantation play in that definition? The human story behind the most exceptional medicine of our time, Mezrich’s riveting book is a beautiful, poignant reminder that a life lost can also offer the hope of a new beginning.

30 review for When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon

  1. 5 out of 5

    Petra Eggs

    5 star book. Really excellent. Review to come. The history of transplantation is actually interesting, as is the sensitive use of language that has evolved alongside it. Surgeons no longer 'harvest' organs from corpses, they 'procure' them from donors!

  2. 4 out of 5

    India Clamp

    Consider five lives can be impacted positively with a body donation via surgical transplantation. While Dr. Joshua D. Mezrich covers over 100 years of surgical transplant history and entices you into the OR to witness the “perfusion of a kidney” post-transplant. Here anything lacking perfection equates to morbid outcomes (for patient and surgeon). "The liver will start pouring bile. The lungs start essentially breathing, the most dramatic organ, of course, is the heart, because you put it in and Consider five lives can be impacted positively with a body donation via surgical transplantation. While Dr. Joshua D. Mezrich covers over 100 years of surgical transplant history and entices you into the OR to witness the “perfusion of a kidney” post-transplant. Here anything lacking perfection equates to morbid outcomes (for patient and surgeon). "The liver will start pouring bile. The lungs start essentially breathing, the most dramatic organ, of course, is the heart, because you put it in and you kind of ...give a little shock and it just starts beating, and that's pretty darn dramatic." ---Joshua D. Mezrich, MD Reflecting on “When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon” the book unravels like a vine in a most riveting way. It engages us to question, should a chronically alcoholic woman receive a donor liver? Mezrich recalls his patients with accuracy like “patient is yellow as a banana” and why this is---medically significant. At University of Wisconsin at Madison Dr. Mezrich orchestrates medical thaumaturgy via expunging organs from death and infusing them with life in new bodies. Gratitude is a quotidian elixir he gives throughout this documented transplant surgery adventure. Must read, reflect and engage others to dialogue. Note, this is not for sensitive types.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    There is a reason this book has a 96% 5-star rating on Amazon. As someone who has been interested in medicine since I was a young child, I tend to read a lot of books such as this one. This is one of the best I've read in the field of organ transplants. While you will learn about the pioneers in the field in this book, you will also read about what it means to be a person on a waiting list for an organ transplant, and the feeling that someone else needs to die so that you can live. Of course, this There is a reason this book has a 96% 5-star rating on Amazon. As someone who has been interested in medicine since I was a young child, I tend to read a lot of books such as this one. This is one of the best I've read in the field of organ transplants. While you will learn about the pioneers in the field in this book, you will also read about what it means to be a person on a waiting list for an organ transplant, and the feeling that someone else needs to die so that you can live. Of course, this is not true in all cases, as living donors are now common for liver and single kidney transplants, but anyone needing an organ to live must grapple with the fact that someone else must either sacrifice a portion of one of their own organs, or someone else must die. This book is, as you might expect, about what it is like to be on the front lines of organ transplants: the waiting, the phone call that may come at any moment and activates such a chain of events leading up to saving a life, and even what loved ones of the patients go through as they watch someone slowly deteriorate. It is a delicate balance - if the patient becomes too sick, they are off the list as they are unlikely to survive the surgery. If the patient isn't sick enough, they take a back seat to someone who is closer to death but still well enough to have a fighting chance of surviving the surgery. For people who become organ donors, it is the ultimate gift. For parents or loved ones who are asked, at the worst possible moment in their lives, if their loved one would want to donate organs, we must thank them for saying "yes" to donation. You may think this book is about death, but it is not. It is about hope and never, ever giving up. It is about scientists and physicians who have made organ transplant possible. And it is about those who are no longer with us physically, but who live on in the lives they saved.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Boissonneault

    It is an underappreciated fact that today a surgeon can, if needed, rip open your chest, remove your heart, replace it with another one, and if all goes well, have you discharged in 10 days. This amazing feat of modern medicine, one we may rarely think about, was at one point thought to be nothing more than a science fiction fantasy—and rightly so. The number of hurdles standing in the way of successful transplantation was enormous. These included figuring out how to suture together blood vessel It is an underappreciated fact that today a surgeon can, if needed, rip open your chest, remove your heart, replace it with another one, and if all goes well, have you discharged in 10 days. This amazing feat of modern medicine, one we may rarely think about, was at one point thought to be nothing more than a science fiction fantasy—and rightly so. The number of hurdles standing in the way of successful transplantation was enormous. These included figuring out how to suture together blood vessels without leakage or damage to the inner lining, how to keep patients alive by temporarily taking over the function of failed organs (dialysis for kidneys and cardiopulmonary bypass for the heart and lungs), and developing anti-rejection medication to prevent the host immune system from attacking the donated organ. Throw in the ethical and logistical issues associated with procuring and coordinating donated organs and recipient transplant lists and you have one of the most complex and daunting issues in the history of medicine. If you’re like me, at some point you’ve pondered the details of the first transplantation, when and where it was performed, and who was bold enough to carry it out, along with the details about how they could have possibly figured all of this out. In When Death Becomes Life, transplant surgeon Joshua D. Mezrich answers these questions and more, telling the story of his own development as a transplant surgeon along with the history of the subject and the pioneers that made it all possible. Mezrich also catalogues the incredible stories of courageous patients and heroic donors that risked everything for a chance to live and save life. The journey to successful transplantation was anything but easy, both in general and for Mezrich in particular. The success rates, while higher today, were extremely low for most of the history of transplantation (and particularly before the development of immunosuppression medications). Mezrich tells the stories of not only the successes but also of the disappointments and deaths, and how emotionally taxing the profession can be. (Mezrich particularly drives home the point when he recounts the first patient he killed.) But far from being a demoralizing book, When Death Becomes Life is a testimony to human perseverance, both individually and collectively. Every failed experiment, unsuccessful operation, and accidental death brings with it the opportunity to learn and advance, and we are living during a period of time where we can witness the culmination of this sacrifice. Today, for example, the one-year survival rate for heart transplant recipients is 85 to 90 percent, compared to about 30 percent in the 1970s. Just imagine the emotional toll of having 7 out of 10 of your patients die within a year of you working on them. Today you can successfully extend the life of 9 out of 10. This drives home a larger message; namely, that the conveniences and privileges we take for granted today were intensely and passionately fought for, and that future progress depends on the application of the same passion and perseverance. Constant vigilance—in medicine as in all areas of life—is the only way forward to a future that is better than the present. Mezrich ends the book by contemplating the future of transplantation, including the possibility of xenotransplants (transplants between species). Pigs represent the most promising donor, and with advances in genetic engineering, we may be able to one day manipulate a pig’s genes to create organs compatible with our own immune systems. If this sounds like science fiction, so did the prospect of heart transplantation between two humans, not that long ago.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kazen

    3.5 stars Books by doctors who wield scalpels are some of my favorites, and Mezrich does a great job introducing the reader to the history and current practice of transplant surgery. The good: - This is not a comprehensive history of transplantation, nor a memoir, nor a collection of patient stories. It's equal parts of each, allowing us to get an overview of the field in a personal, relatable way. - Transplant surgery is amazing, and Mezrich obviously loves his job and sharing that wonder and excit 3.5 stars Books by doctors who wield scalpels are some of my favorites, and Mezrich does a great job introducing the reader to the history and current practice of transplant surgery. The good: - This is not a comprehensive history of transplantation, nor a memoir, nor a collection of patient stories. It's equal parts of each, allowing us to get an overview of the field in a personal, relatable way. - Transplant surgery is amazing, and Mezrich obviously loves his job and sharing that wonder and excitement with us. It's almost like he's going, 'Look! Isn't this cool?' And it is. - The pioneers of the field, like most doctors in the 1960s and 70s, were men, so I appreciate that he takes the time to acknowledge a woman who is leading the field today and has some bad ass stories of her own. - The pacing is good and the switches between history, patient stories, and his training are well done. I never thought, 'go back!' or, 'ugh, history again'. It all fits together. - Mezrich doesn't shy away from ethical issues. Some of the first donors didn't give consent, exactly, and organs were taken from people who died in prison as a matter of course. When the field was first getting established there wasn't even an accepted definition of brain death. Not all the controversy is in the past - do you give a new liver to an alcoholic? How much risk do you let a living donor take on in order to save their spouse? - Overall the tone is upbeat. He doesn't tear our hearts out or leave us in suspense about the outcome of a case, which I appreciate. My eyes did leak a bit while reading the chapter about donors because the details are beautiful and touching. For example, before starting the operation to procure organs the doctors, nurses, ICU team, and other staff that took care of the patient will pause and say something about the donor. Often they'll read a poem or express thoughts from the family, and many will have tears in their eyes as they start. - There are no spiels about how everyone should donate their kidneys or anything like that. He accepts organs as they come, and always with a sense of gratitude and respect for the donors. - The author seems like a nice guy which is saying a lot, because there are bunches of surgeons who write books that don't seem like nice guys. He acknowledges the rest of his team and thanks them often, as well as share funny, self-deprecating stories. The not-so-good: - As much as I enjoyed this book (a lot!) I'm not sure it will stick with me. It's missing that ineffable something that screams four star read. If you like books about medicine, look forward to the Wellcome Prize longlist, or are just curious about transplantation, you'll want to pick up Death Becomes Life. Thanks to Harper and Edelweiss for providing a review copy.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katie/Doing Dewey

    Summary: This book was a mixed bag for me, with some parts that were far more interesting than others and a tone that varied from too formal to too informal to spot on. This is one of the many recent releases in what is becoming one of my favorite genres,  memoir plus an intro to another topic. In this case, transplant surgeon Joshua Mezrich combines his professional memoir with a history of transplant surgery and some of his patients' stories. This blend gives the reader a glimpse of both the te Summary: This book was a mixed bag for me, with some parts that were far more interesting than others and a tone that varied from too formal to too informal to spot on. This is one of the many recent releases in what is becoming one of my favorite genres,  memoir plus an intro to another topic. In this case, transplant surgeon Joshua Mezrich combines his professional memoir with a history of transplant surgery and some of his patients' stories. This blend gives the reader a glimpse of both the technical aspects of transplant surgery and the day-to-day human experience of receiving, donating, and transplanting organs. I immediately suspected this book was going to be a mix of good and bad based on the author's tone. Within the first few chapters, the author had already used a lot of technical terms (anatomy and surgery descriptions) without bothering to define them. He'd also gone to the other extreme, using flip, casual language that was incongruous with the serious topic. This combination frequently showed up when the author was discussing the intricate details of doing surgery. The author also bounced back and forth between sounding sympathetic for his patients and sounding callous. Based on the author's discussion of the difficulties of losing patients, I suspect both the callous-seeming sections and the sections that seemed too flip were his coping mechanisms showing. As a result of the poorly explained technical terms, the sections about doing surgery were my least favorite. They were a bit of a slog. Without pictures, it was hard to imagine what was going on. The history sections were more engaging, although there were a lot of experiments on animals. Fortunately, they weren't described in too much detail. However, my favorite parts were definitely the sections focused on the author's patients, both the organ donors and recipients. These chapters were particularly moving. We got to see people going through some of the most challenging life experiences and in many cases, making some good come of them. I also thought the author was the most sympathetic in these sections. Overall, this was a fascinating topic and the personal bits were very good. The poorly explained technical parts just didn't live up to the rest. I'd still recommend it to people who like medical memoirs, but I suspect there are better ones you might pick up first.This review was originally posted on Doing Dewey

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    In this debut memoir a surgeon surveys the history of organ transplantation, recalling his own medical education and the special patients he’s met along the way. In the 1940s and 1950s patient after patient was lost to rejection of the transplanted organ, post-surgery infection, or hemorrhaging. Mezrich marvels at how few decades passed between transplantation seeming like something out of a science-fiction future and becoming a commonplace procedure. His aim is to never lose his sense of wonder In this debut memoir a surgeon surveys the history of organ transplantation, recalling his own medical education and the special patients he’s met along the way. In the 1940s and 1950s patient after patient was lost to rejection of the transplanted organ, post-surgery infection, or hemorrhaging. Mezrich marvels at how few decades passed between transplantation seeming like something out of a science-fiction future and becoming a commonplace procedure. His aim is to never lose his sense of wonder at the life-saving possibilities of organ donation, and he conveys that awe to readers through his descriptions of a typical procedure. One day I will likely need a donated kidney to save my life. How grateful I am to live at a time when this is a possibility. See my full review at BookBrowse. (See also my list of other books, fiction and non-, featuring organ donation.)

  8. 5 out of 5

    April Greissinger

    Big thanks to Harper Books for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review! I LOVED this book and I will definitely be thinking about it for a long time! I am in the medical field and I love reading about anything medical, from healthcare provider's experiences to any past history regarding the field. When I saw this book was coming out, I was extremely excited and had to get my hands on a copy! I love learning new things through books and I didn't know that much about su Big thanks to Harper Books for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review! I LOVED this book and I will definitely be thinking about it for a long time! I am in the medical field and I love reading about anything medical, from healthcare provider's experiences to any past history regarding the field. When I saw this book was coming out, I was extremely excited and had to get my hands on a copy! I love learning new things through books and I didn't know that much about surgery before reading this one. But man did I learn a lot! Dr. Mezrich gave so much history about the first heart/liver/lung/pancreas transplants and it was so interesting! It definitely felt drier at times since the material is pretty dense, but it was very interesting and informative. The history made me reflect on the way that the medical field has changed so much over the years, and it was so crazy to read about the first procedures and about these courageous surgeons! So much new medical information has been gained from these doctors in the past and it is incredible what they started many years ago. I wish they could see how things have changed now and how much of an impact they have made in the field today. I loved having these stories interspersed with Dr. Mezrich's experiences throughout the book. I definitely skimmed some of the history and looked more forward to his personal experiences throughout, but I love that he really delved into the past so you could get a better picture about how everything got started. My favorite sections of the book were his interactions with all of the different patients! I loved reading about how grateful and excited pancreas patients are about getting these new organs. I loved how he dove deeper into this information since so many people have diabetes today, and I run into so many people through rescue and in the hospitals with diabetes. I loved reading about the ethical dilemmas about alcoholics receiving new livers and learned so much through these chapters. It made me reflect on patients that I have seen in the past and how there still need to be some changes made to really help these people overcome these addictions - more than just putting a bandaid on the problem with a new organ as he put it in the book. There was so much hope filled throughout these pages with people getting new organs and the new life they get to experience because of it. I also loved that he loves surgery because he says he is able to develop lifelong relationships with these patients. This is something I am excited to do hopefully one day as a Physician Assistant. I LOVED this book but couldn't get it 5 stars because multiple times the title Physician Assistant was misused, which is a bit problem of mine since this is my future profession. This is just a minor issue but something that is big to me and I bet lots of other PAs out there. HIGHLY recommend this book if you are interested in the medical field and learning new things about surgery! Also if you love stories filled with hope and new beginnings. I think this book will make you reflect on your life and maybe some of the people that have impacted you in many important ways.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Susan LeGrand Levine

    To give is to receive...I did and this one thing I know! This book describes in detail the heroes (and their stories)who blazed the trail of transplantation. Being a donor and having a healthy husband is my reward. Thanks Josh for your part in making this a reality to our family. This book helps me understand so much better what went on at UW Hospital-Madison May 23rd, 2012. I’m forever grateful.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris C

    2.5 This is a decent medical book but after the glorious writing in Emperor of Maladies it is somewhat deficient. For instance, the writer delineates a certain operation but I have no idea to which the author references. Diagrams, analogies, pictures, even a YouTube link would have been of much use but I am left to wonder as medical jargon abounds without any layperson reference. Furthermore, the writing is somewhat insipid in that the pioneers of transplantation are limited to severe exposition 2.5 This is a decent medical book but after the glorious writing in Emperor of Maladies it is somewhat deficient. For instance, the writer delineates a certain operation but I have no idea to which the author references. Diagrams, analogies, pictures, even a YouTube link would have been of much use but I am left to wonder as medical jargon abounds without any layperson reference. Furthermore, the writing is somewhat insipid in that the pioneers of transplantation are limited to severe exposition without much life given to them. I appreciated the passages where the author has done so but they remain few and far between. Example of a surgical passage: I placed a side-biter clamp on Tito’s cava down below the liver. I cut a hole in his cava above my clamp and proceeded to sew the donor infrahepatic cava to the recipient cava. This took about ten minutes. We opened the clamps and there was flow through it. Then I grabbed a vascular stapler and fired it across the upper cuff. Most of the surgical bleeding from the cava stopped. Success. We basically rerouted blood, so that rather than flow through the donor liver and out the top, the blood flowed through the liver and went out the bottom, still into the recipient cava.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    Thanks to BookShout for letting me read this book! In order to fully appreciate this book, one needs to take anatomy and a medical terminology class. Or google everything they don’t understand and take forever reading this. It also could use pictures to demonstrate what he’s talking about with crossing or connecting the veins and arteries and where people have put kidneys in the past, etc. There are also a lotttt of historical figures whom I’ve never heard of before to keep track. I need a timel Thanks to BookShout for letting me read this book! In order to fully appreciate this book, one needs to take anatomy and a medical terminology class. Or google everything they don’t understand and take forever reading this. It also could use pictures to demonstrate what he’s talking about with crossing or connecting the veins and arteries and where people have put kidneys in the past, etc. There are also a lotttt of historical figures whom I’ve never heard of before to keep track. I need a timeline. I understand the need to appreciate medical marvels throughout time but I didn’t know that’s what I was getting when I picked up this book. I would’ve enjoyed this more if it was only the author’s experiences without the history and anatomy lessons. Does the average reader really need this much surgical detail? To whom is this book targeted? Med students and residents only?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I really enjoyed this book--I thought the balance of personal experience, technical explanation, history, and patient stories made for very meaningful coverage of the topic of transplantation.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bonny

    When Death Becomes Life is an interesting memoir and history of organ transplantation from transplant surgeon Dr. Joshua Mezrich. While I enjoyed his writing about the history, researchers and physicians that brought us to this point in time with transplantations, I enjoyed his writing about his own background, how and why he became a transplant surgeon, and his own patients just as much or more. Dr. Mezrich always maintains an awareness and respect for the great gift that donors and their famil When Death Becomes Life is an interesting memoir and history of organ transplantation from transplant surgeon Dr. Joshua Mezrich. While I enjoyed his writing about the history, researchers and physicians that brought us to this point in time with transplantations, I enjoyed his writing about his own background, how and why he became a transplant surgeon, and his own patients just as much or more. Dr. Mezrich always maintains an awareness and respect for the great gift that donors and their families are giving, and reminds readers of that often. I loved reading about the technical details of kidney transplants, but Dr. Mezrich also reminds the readers that even though it may be an almost-routine procedure, it is really never routine. He recounts his enthusiasm at seeing a kidney become pink with blood flow and begin producing urine, and also writes about heart, lung, liver, and pancreas transplants, and the inherent difficulties with them. I thoroughly enjoyed the chapter about how cyclosporine was discovered and what a huge difference it made in transplantations. After all, transplantation is as much about immunology as it is about surgical skill, and Dr. Mezrich recounts all of this in his thoroughly enjoyable book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Bobin

    Many of us have come to take the ability to transplant organs for granted without realizing the cost to get where we are today. This brief look at the history or transplantation and some of the key people that brought us to where we are today is an interesting read. It is written in a way that the lay person can understand most of it but would benefit anyone in the medical field. It is a look into the lives of the surgeons but just as importantly into the lives of the patients, donors and others Many of us have come to take the ability to transplant organs for granted without realizing the cost to get where we are today. This brief look at the history or transplantation and some of the key people that brought us to where we are today is an interesting read. It is written in a way that the lay person can understand most of it but would benefit anyone in the medical field. It is a look into the lives of the surgeons but just as importantly into the lives of the patients, donors and others. The history is much longer than I thought and also I have lived through so much of the successful history and watched it unfold, often without thinking much of it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    This was an interesting book. I thought reading it would make me less nervous about having transplant surgery. It didn’t help. I learned all about the history of transplant for kidneys, livers, pancreas, heart and lungs. I also learned about immunosuppressant drugs and how organs are procured for transplant. All of this from a transplant surgeon’s point of view. Jerry had listened to NPR and Dr. Joshua D. Mezrich was a feature story his life as a transplant surgeon. This was how o came across th This was an interesting book. I thought reading it would make me less nervous about having transplant surgery. It didn’t help. I learned all about the history of transplant for kidneys, livers, pancreas, heart and lungs. I also learned about immunosuppressant drugs and how organs are procured for transplant. All of this from a transplant surgeon’s point of view. Jerry had listened to NPR and Dr. Joshua D. Mezrich was a feature story his life as a transplant surgeon. This was how o came across this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rana

    Really fascinating history.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Janelle • She Reads with Cats

    Review to come

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Enjoyable, emotional memoir of a transplant surgeon I loved this book. I found it an emotional rollercoaster: joy for transplants that worked, sorrow for transplants that didn't, and sorrow for the donors who met untimely deaths but also joy that parts of them lived on in transplant recipients. This book encompassed history of medicine, modern medicine and memoir. As a memoir, the book is excellent; I loved Joshua Mezrich’s adventures and the way he described them, and this is where Mezrich’s sen Enjoyable, emotional memoir of a transplant surgeon I loved this book. I found it an emotional rollercoaster: joy for transplants that worked, sorrow for transplants that didn't, and sorrow for the donors who met untimely deaths but also joy that parts of them lived on in transplant recipients. This book encompassed history of medicine, modern medicine and memoir. As a memoir, the book is excellent; I loved Joshua Mezrich’s adventures and the way he described them, and this is where Mezrich’s sense of humor would shine through. His discussion of the science is very clear except where, being a surgeon, he would lapse into very technical details about it; more so than he did for anti-rejection drugs, for example. Nonetheless, this is a great book and I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in science, or medicine, more specifically. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book via Edelweiss for review purposes.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I have been a supporter of organ donation ever since I discovered that Singapore Citizens are by default consented to organ donation until they decided to opt out of the government program. I instantly knew that I wanted to be an organ donor then because it was the right thing to do. When you die, these organs have no use for you anymore, so why not give them to multiple people so that they can have another shot at life? I am not a Singapore Citizen (boy how I wish I am), and looking to my own c I have been a supporter of organ donation ever since I discovered that Singapore Citizens are by default consented to organ donation until they decided to opt out of the government program. I instantly knew that I wanted to be an organ donor then because it was the right thing to do. When you die, these organs have no use for you anymore, so why not give them to multiple people so that they can have another shot at life? I am not a Singapore Citizen (boy how I wish I am), and looking to my own country's views and attitudes towards the issue I was appalled. Organ donation have always been a taboo topic in Indonesia for religious - and I assume cultural - reasons, so it have never been breached and there does not exist an adequate system that facilitates this beautiful mechanism of giving and taking. There is an organisation that facilitates cornea donation and transplantation, but that's about it. Reading this book somehow made me want to do more to make people understand that organ donation is an issue that shouldn't be avoided like talking about it means talking about your impending doom, but a serious issue that can make this society and this world a better place. But then I give up the idea 5 minutes after the acknowledgement page. Much as it will be an ideal world I'd like to live in, I won't even try changing people around here. It's too hard. Anyway, to return to the book, I can't help feeling my organs move internally when they talk about opening, sewing, taking pieces out and replacing things on people like it's nobody business. One book referenced in this book was 'The Puzzle People' and come to think about it maybe as human we really are just that. The book shares history of organ transplantation, types of organs transplantation that exist, how they differ from one another, about alternative transplantation methods in the work and most importantly about surgeons, donors and recipients, those who make this happen. One thing about this book though, I wish it had been more in-depth and talks about issues more thoroughly, but alas this book is only anecdotes from a medical professional and never claims to attempt to explain everything but to share the daily ongoings into a field that we as layman hopefully would never enter (except when being donors). So there's no complaints. And if you haven't already, please consider and reconsider organ donation. It might possibly be the most important legacy you leave in this lifetime. It's truly a gift that keeps on giving.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bill Weaver

    I heard Terry Gross interview this doctor for this book on Fresh Air. It's about transplant surgery--its history, surgical challenges, and moral dilemmas. But like all good scientific topics written for a general audience, it succeeds because the author--a transplant surgeon himself--translates everything into stories, both his own and historical. The book just reads wonderfully, even as the author explains complex surgeries in detail. That said, this book is not as good as any by Atul Gawande ( I heard Terry Gross interview this doctor for this book on Fresh Air. It's about transplant surgery--its history, surgical challenges, and moral dilemmas. But like all good scientific topics written for a general audience, it succeeds because the author--a transplant surgeon himself--translates everything into stories, both his own and historical. The book just reads wonderfully, even as the author explains complex surgeries in detail. That said, this book is not as good as any by Atul Gawande (what is?) because I felt like the author didn't dive deep enough into the moral issues with transplant surgery. There's a short chapter and some quick, easy thoughts on giving alcoholics new livers (he says Yes because one disease at a time). There's maybe a paragraph on the question of whether a dying patient justifies any experiment (he says No, because false hope for the family is bad). But the book is still excellent and I was blown away by how many times this doctor recounts his own mistakes in operating (even fatal mistakes). Either he's very confident he won't be sued or there's a statute of limitations. Regardless, it really humanized the whole endeavor and made you understand how hard it is to be a surgeon.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    Audiobook. While it starts a little slow, progressively this book transforms into a truly amazing read. The author, a transplant surgeon, alternates between a history with the basic science behind each type of transplant and his personal experience with that type of surgery. This process of diving into his emotions, those of the families of the donor, and the impact that it had on the recipient and their emotions (waiting for someone to die) in recieving the organ give life (pun intended) to the Audiobook. While it starts a little slow, progressively this book transforms into a truly amazing read. The author, a transplant surgeon, alternates between a history with the basic science behind each type of transplant and his personal experience with that type of surgery. This process of diving into his emotions, those of the families of the donor, and the impact that it had on the recipient and their emotions (waiting for someone to die) in recieving the organ give life (pun intended) to the hard science. You see the toll of mistakes not only to patients but to the doctor and an understanding that is invariably part of the process. He also explores a wide variety of ethical issues surrounding transplant surgery (ex. should alcoholics receive livers, the criteria for being at the top of the list for an organ, presumed consent, using animals for organs, etc.). After reading this book, you will think about transplant surgery more deeply and differently.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Fascinating book overall. Mezrich is clearly a knowledgeable, passionate and accomplished surgeon. His writing gives the reader not only a good background for transplant surgery overall, but imparts a real appreciation for the donor, the recipient, the families/loved ones as well as the medical teams that support such surgery. He touches on many different types of transplant surgery (liver, kidney, heart, etc) and discusses the intricacies of them. His compassion and devotion to his craft is evi Fascinating book overall. Mezrich is clearly a knowledgeable, passionate and accomplished surgeon. His writing gives the reader not only a good background for transplant surgery overall, but imparts a real appreciation for the donor, the recipient, the families/loved ones as well as the medical teams that support such surgery. He touches on many different types of transplant surgery (liver, kidney, heart, etc) and discusses the intricacies of them. His compassion and devotion to his craft is evident in his words. Very interesting book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    Mix of the history of transplantation surgery, information on how the surgeries are conducted, and vignettes on patients to highlight these procedures. Even coming from the medical-adjacent field, I found the sections describing what actually happens during the transplants a bit too technical, but enjoyed the history and examples of patients the author worked with. Would have enjoyed a bit more exploration of ethical issues around living donors and transportations into individuals with condition Mix of the history of transplantation surgery, information on how the surgeries are conducted, and vignettes on patients to highlight these procedures. Even coming from the medical-adjacent field, I found the sections describing what actually happens during the transplants a bit too technical, but enjoyed the history and examples of patients the author worked with. Would have enjoyed a bit more exploration of ethical issues around living donors and transportations into individuals with conditions such as chronic alcoholism.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    It's almost a relief to read a book like this and realize that medical authors like Atul Gawande and Siddartha Mukherjee are the exception. Mezrich writes like you'd expect someone from a science background to write - not always elegantly, but always straight to the point. As a whole, I enjoyed the book, but Mezrich is much better at writing about the history of transplant surgery than his personal life. The transitions weren't always the best, and the writing became significantly choppier when It's almost a relief to read a book like this and realize that medical authors like Atul Gawande and Siddartha Mukherjee are the exception. Mezrich writes like you'd expect someone from a science background to write - not always elegantly, but always straight to the point. As a whole, I enjoyed the book, but Mezrich is much better at writing about the history of transplant surgery than his personal life. The transitions weren't always the best, and the writing became significantly choppier when he was narrating his own experiences (although I loved the cavalier, gunslinger attitude he had when describing his cases because he didn't pretend to be the mythically refined doctor that seems to be the new literary norm). But the whole book is compulsively readable, and I appreciate that Mezrich put in an effort to discuss some morality debates surrounding transplants (like who gets organs) and his predictions for where the field was heading, based off of current research. I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the historical development of transplant surgery and what it's like to be practicing today.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    A really excellent book. I learned a ton of info about the process of transplantation as well as it's history, some of which I was quite surprised to find out, like how someone in the 60s transplanted two chimps kidneys into a person. I mean, they died, but it happened. One of the pioneers of transplantation was a Nazi sympathizer who believed in eugenics while another was a Dutch resistant who actively worked to hide Jews from persecution as well as work with Jews deemed too sick to go to death A really excellent book. I learned a ton of info about the process of transplantation as well as it's history, some of which I was quite surprised to find out, like how someone in the 60s transplanted two chimps kidneys into a person. I mean, they died, but it happened. One of the pioneers of transplantation was a Nazi sympathizer who believed in eugenics while another was a Dutch resistant who actively worked to hide Jews from persecution as well as work with Jews deemed too sick to go to death camps. I loved the story about the girl who got her liver and then immediately wanted a hamburger. I laughed during this book and cried. Perhaps my biggest complaint is that Dr. Mezrich really needed a thesaurus for the word 'beautiful'

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    So interesting!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Manintheboat

    Now I am so itchy and keep asking people if I have kidney failure.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katie Gurney

    Brilliant This book is fantastic! I really enjoyed the history of transplants and the risk takers that paved the way to save so many lives. It's amazing to read all of the patient stories from a physicians perspective and to gain insight into this medical specialty. I absolutely loved this book and would highly recommend.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Beth

    I received an uncorrected proof copy of this book from HarperCollins. Part memoir from a transplant surgeon on his experiences in the field and part history of the practice of transplantation, this book strikes the delicate balance of conveying a wealth of information on the movement of organs between bodies while also keeping the human element of the patients' stories very present. Throughout the book, Mezrich covers multiple types of transplants including kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, and ski I received an uncorrected proof copy of this book from HarperCollins. Part memoir from a transplant surgeon on his experiences in the field and part history of the practice of transplantation, this book strikes the delicate balance of conveying a wealth of information on the movement of organs between bodies while also keeping the human element of the patients' stories very present. Throughout the book, Mezrich covers multiple types of transplants including kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, and skin, but also spends time discussing the ethical issues behind this medical practice, the extraordinary gift provided by the donors, and the devastating tragedies that occur when transplants don't succeed. It was a unusual choice to blend his own personal experiences dealing with patients with historical coverage of transplants in the nineteenth century, but it did give the book a much more personal feel than a standalone history. However, while the history sections in each chapter did help me learn a lot about transplantation's origins, I enjoyed the personal memoir sections far more. Mezrich is able to transport his reader into the operating room to see the challenges and setbacks that can occur and into the waiting room with the family as they wait for their loved one. By sharing individual stories of patients, he brings the medical practice to life and helps illuminate the desperation that fueled early research. There were parts of this book that were hard to read. There are many, many patient deaths shared within the pages of this book, both of donors and those hoping to receive successful donations. The history of transplantation is one littered with desperately ill patients hoping against hope that this new practice will buy them some time. For many, it was a false hope, but at least their losses led to many successes in Mezrich's lifetime for many of the patients he treats. I also felt sympathy for surgeons who sacrifice so much for the sake of their patients. Mezrich's account is full of references to being away from his children and operations performed in the middle of the night. As he says, "I often have the feeling that my job is to fix people with illness so they can go back out and live their lives, do things that I would love to do but don't have time to" (339). Mezrich also does an excellent job of tackling many of the ethical issues associated with transplant, including how to define death, who is deserving of a transplant, and how much risk a healthy person should be allowed to take to save someone else. This book was an excellent example of medical history done right with the added bonus of personal experiences being shared by someone who works in the field and has a very nuanced understanding and appreciation for the complexity of what he does.

  30. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    The sick suffer alone, they undergo procedures and surgeries alone, and in the end, they die alone. Transplant is different. Transplant is all about having someone else join you in your illness. It may be in the form of an organ from a recently deceased donor, a selfless gift given by someone has never met you, or a kidney or liver from a relative, friend or acquaintance. In every case, someone is saying, in effect, “Let me join you in the recovery, your suffering, your fear of the unknown, you The sick suffer alone, they undergo procedures and surgeries alone, and in the end, they die alone. Transplant is different. Transplant is all about having someone else join you in your illness. It may be in the form of an organ from a recently deceased donor, a selfless gift given by someone has never met you, or a kidney or liver from a relative, friend or acquaintance. In every case, someone is saying, in effect, “Let me join you in the recovery, your suffering, your fear of the unknown, your desire to become healthy, to get your life back. Let me bear some of your risk with you.” – Dr. Joshua D. Mezrich How beautiful is that? This quote basically sums up some of what is explored in When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon I have a bit of a fascination with the medical field so I am always on the look out for memoirs written by doctors. It started with When Death Becomes Life by Paul Kalanithi, since then I’ve been reading "medical memoirs". Dr. Joshua Mezrich does an amazing job of giving you an historical look into transplant surgery, you hear get a solid historical look at the pioneers who did the ground work that made this field so successful today. Also covered are the patients, donors and Mezrich's journey to become a Transplant Surgeon. The medical jargons can be a lot but if you’ve been watching Grey’s Antaomy you should be good. Mezrich balances the history lessons with heart warming stories about his patients. A well researched, well written look into the life of a Transplant Surgeon. Also, in reading this book I learned that the first human to human transplant was done In 1976 in South Africa performed by Dr. Chistiaan Barnard. A little FYI for yah! Thanks HarperBooks for this ARC.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.