Spare Parts: The Story of Medicine Through the History of Transplant Surgery

St. Martin’s. May 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781250280329. $28.99. MED
Craddock (surgery, University Coll., London) presents a fascinating history of transplant medicine. The first recorded skin graft took place in India in the 6th century BCE, indicating that the procedure is probably older than that. The first “modern” transplants of skin and noses began in the 16th century in Italy, when cutting off noses was a common punishment. The procedure was done in secret by two families until a surgeon fooled them into showing him the technique. The idea of interfering with nature concerned religious scholars; one early surgeon addressed the problem by emphasizing that the transplant returned the face to its God-created condition. Transplant medicine moved forward in fits and starts through the Renaissance, as the details of the circulatory system were uncovered. During the 18th century, tooth transplants became a status symbol for wealthy people; teeth were often bought from impoverished youngsters. It was not until blood typing was developed in 1901 and vascular surgery techniques improved that major organ transplantation could be considered. Craddock provides entertaining details of the lives involved along the way.
VERDICT This fascinating and lively medical history will appeal to lay readers and anyone interested in the history of medicine.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing