While this post may carry little interest to those who are not parents of heart kids, I have been meaning to write it for quite some time. I have recently read and discovered some fascinating books about those who pioneered heart surgery, etc.
The first book is Partners of the Heart by Vivien Thomas. Some of you might recognize the name Vivien Thomas because of the extraordinary movie, “Something the Lord Made”. This is the same Vivien Thomas, and this is his autobiography. Though at times a bit tough to get through all the medical terms and though it doesn’t carry the charm of being written by a trained author it is incredibly and fascinating to read Thomas’s own words about his experiences with Alfred Blaloc and first surgery on blue babies. It is an astounding and fascinating read.
I will branch off and talk about the movie, Something the Lord Made. It is based on Thomas’s autobiography and is absolutely wonderful. It is quite faithful to the true accounts of the autobiography and does a great job of depicting the drama of the first blue baby surgery. The auto briography rather glosses the drama over a bit, so I enjoyed the emotion that the movie portrayed, etc. We own a copy of the movie and I have watched it a couple of times, each time having tears brought to my eyes as I think of all we have to thank these great men for who took such risks. It is an amazing movie and I recommend it to all heart parents – though maybe not right after or before surgery, that might be a bit much. 🙂
The second book is: King of Hearts: The True Story of the Maverick Who Pioneered Open Heart Surgery by G. Wayne Miller. A biography about Dr. Walt Lillehei who was an amazing man who stopped at nothing and broke all the rules of medicine to be able to find a way to fix the broken heart. With many side stories about other pioneers such as Dr. Werner Forsmann who performed the first heart catheterization on himself. The author writes a brilliant and engaging story with a complete bibliography and index. Dr. Lillehei did not gain the expected nobel prize because of some rather poor personal deicisions (not paying taxes, etc) but his story is an amazing one, as well as all the other doctors involved in his story. A fantastic read.
Lastly is a book about pediatric cardiac surgeon Roger Mee, Walk On Water: The Miracle of Saving Children’s Lives by Michael Runlman. A fascinating look into the intense drama of pediatric surgeons and the amazing work they do. A bit tough to read for me because it hit really close to the heart, but amazing to share int he stories of this great surgeon and others like him. The author uses A LOT of profanity and for those who find it offensive, as I do, will find a sharpie useful – It is a great book though – especially without the language. But for those who don’t mind the language, it will be great no matter what. The author is very dramatic and he really delves into operating room and the tension and drama – it is almost overbearing and I had to concentrate on not picturing my kid, but I am so glad I read it.
I am always looking for more books and fascinating info on these amazing men who worked at the front of Cardiac Surgery, so if anyone discovers other amazing books or resources, I would love to know about them. I hope those who dive into these books thoroughly enjoy them. They are hard to find at libraries and local book stores (thought libraries are more likely than local bookstores), but they can all be found on Amazon.com and a lot of them can be purchased for pennies used – that is how I got my copies. If you read any of them be sure to let me know, I would love to discuss your thoughts on them.