Author(s): Stephen Westaby
Grim Reaper sits on the heart surgeon's shoulder. A slip of the hand and life ebbs away. The balance between life and death is so delicate, and the heart surgeon walks that rope between the two. But in the operating room there is no time for such contemplation or philosophy. It is blood, gore, rib retractors and pumping the vital organ with your bare hand to squeeze the life back into it. You must stitch holes while the muscle pumps away - you are a mechanic fixing a car while it speeds down the motorway at 70mph. Heart surgery is certainly not for the faint hearted. Professor Steve Westaby took all the chances, ignored all the rules and pushed the boundaries to make heart surgery what it is today. At the forefront of pioneering cardiac technology, and having carried out 11,000 heart operations over his career, Steve has seen it all. In his astounding memoir Steve details some of his most remarkable cases, such as 'the pulseless man', a tiny baby who silently suffered multiple heart attacks, a woman who lived the nightmare of locked-in syndrome after surgery, and a man whose life was powered by a battery for eight years. FRAGILE LIVES offers an exceptional insight into the fast-paced and exhilarating world of heart surgery and how it feels to hold someone's life in your hand.
Steve Westaby is a celebrated world-famous heart surgeon who is renowned for being the first surgeon in history to fit a patient with a new type of artificial heart. During his 35 year career as a surgeon he worked at several of the UK's top hospitals and performed over 11,000 heart operations. He won The Midlander of the Year Award (2002) and a Ray C. Fish Award for Scientific Achievement (2004). In 2004 Steve Westaby was featured in the BBC documentary Your Life in Their Hands which is a long-running series on the subject of surgery.