When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon

Harper. Jan. 2019. 368p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062656209. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062656223. MED
OrangeReviewStarTransplant surgeon Mezrich (surgery, Univ. of Wisconsin Sch. of Medicine & Public Health) can replace a person's kidney; he can also write a well-paced book taking readers through complicated medical procedures with real-life examples filled with suspense. A glimpse into this complicated field is given through a history of organ transplantation starting with skin grafts and ending with the liver. The author presents a history of a procedure, the invention of breakthrough treatments such as dialysis, and the development of medications to prevent rejection. Woven into this history are personal accounts of success, failure, perfect procedures, and frightening complications. Mezrich relieves the tension with humor, balancing clinical perspective with heart-rending stories, and through it all maintains enthusiasm and wonder at the process. This is not just a tale of doctors; patient and donor stories are also respectfully told. Ethical questions are further considered, such as who should be at the top of the organ recipient list?
VERDICT A great read for fans of narrative nonfiction, medicine, and real-life suspense stories.
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