HEALTH & MEDICINE

Borrowing Life: How Scientists, Surgeons, and a War Hero Made the First Successful Organ Transplant a Reality

Imagine. Apr. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781623545390. $24.99. MED
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Mickle (American Pharaoh) uses her novelist’s skills for characterization and plot in this well-researched story of Charles Woods, an eccentric World War II pilot severely burned in a plane accident; Joe Murray, his young doctor at Valley Forge Hospital with only nine months of surgical training; Francis Moore, his Harvard-trained boss; and Peter Medawar, a zoology graduate student at Oxford who used his biological training to create successful skin grafts for British soldiers injured during the war. Inspired by Woods’s determination to live despite several surgeries and severe pain, Murray and Moore’s work on skin grafts and the body’s acceptance or rejection of them led to work on kidney transplantation, which had the same obstacles, at Brigham Hospital in Boston. Medawar’s key discoveries helped them succeed with the first successful organ transplant at Boston’s Peter Brent Brigham Hospital in 1954.
VERDICT A thrilling and riveting story of determination, perseverance, and compassion that makes medical history accessible.

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