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Publisher's Summary

An incredible memoir from one of the world's most eminent heart surgeons, with some of the most remarkable and poignant cases he's worked on.

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. In the operating room, there is no time for doubt. It is flesh, blood, rib retractors and pumping the vital organ with your bare hand to squeeze the life back into it. An off day can have dire consequences - this job has a steep learning curve, and the cost is measured in human life. Cardiac surgery is not for the faint of heart.

Professor Stephen Westaby took chances and pushed the boundaries of heart surgery. He saved hundreds of lives over the course of a 35-year career, and now, in his astounding memoir, Westaby details some of his most remarkable and poignant cases - such as the baby who had suffered multiple heart attacks by six months old, a woman who lived the nightmare of locked-in syndrome, and a man whose life was powered by a battery for eight years.

A powerful, important and incredibly moving book, Fragile Lives offers exceptional insight into the exhilarating and sometimes tragic world of heart surgery and how it feels to hold someone's life in your hands.

©2017 Stephen Westaby (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Ruth Nixon
  • 05-01-17

What a book, what a man

I brought this book after reading an extract within a national newspaper. I wasn't disappointed.
I wouldn't be able to begin to imagine what a day in the life of a heart surgeon would bring Prof Westaby has written a book which is both enthralling as it is interesting and exciting. I couldn't put it down.
This gentleman has a gift for his work as a surgeon and one which so many people must be so grateful for.
Excellent book, excellent man, excellent work.
A must read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Starskey
  • 04-27-17

Inciteful

Good book.
Narration good but annoying as pronunciation of medical terminology mostly Incorrect and so annoying.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Corner
  • 04-17-17

Absolutely brilliant. Please read it!

I am not one to like anything to do with surgery at all! But this book was so good and easy to listen to, sharing his and his patients stories. The true dedication and honesty comes across. I would never have thought of a top heart surgeon coming from Scunthorpe,which I knew as a child, so this blew away some myths and stereotyping. Much food for thought at the end about the NHS, funding and the league tables that sets a culture of blame. So applicable for other social and public services. I hope someone in Goverment reads this book. Thank you for writing this as it is a truly amazing story/career and read so well by the narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rob Wellings
  • 04-05-17

The story of a real life superhero.

The first chapter almost made me chuck up in my car on a densely packed M6. However, once I became accustomed to the blood and guts, I couldn't stop listening. This is an amazing memoir, so glad he shared it with us.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr. Kenneth Lancer
  • 02-22-17

The story of a great surgeon and a great man

Would you consider the audio edition of Fragile Lives to be better than the print version?

Possibly; My preference is to listen to a good story teller

Who was your favorite character and why?

Stephen Westaby

Have you listened to any of Gordon Griffin’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The glory days of pioneering heart surgery

Any additional comments?

This is one of the best books that I have ever come across. When Stephen Westaby was angry I was angry; when he was tearful and choked with emotion so was I. I lived every moment with him. Please read this book and you will not regret it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Unretired
  • 02-22-17

Outstanding a must read

This is an outstanding and even important book. I have been transfixed from start to finish even if at points it has addressed profoundly sadly moments.

I believe this book should be read by every hospital manager / administrator as Mr Westaby's can do approach seems to be very much at risk from the inexorable march of clipboard management.

Buy and read this book, you won't regret it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful