• Open Heart

  • A Cardiac Surgeon's Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table
  • By: Stephen Westaby
  • Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
  • Length: 10 hrs and 27 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (192 ratings)

Prime logo Prime members: New to Audible?
Get 2 free audiobooks during trial.
Pick 1 audiobook a month from our unmatched collection.
Listen all you want to thousands of included audiobooks, Originals, and podcasts.
Access exclusive sales and deals.
Premium Plus auto-renews for $14.95/mo after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Open Heart  By  cover art

Open Heart

By: Stephen Westaby
Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $20.26

Buy for $20.26

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's summary

In gripping prose, one of the world's leading cardiac surgeons lays bare both the wonder and the horror of a life spent a heartbeat away from death.

When Stephen Westaby witnessed a patient die on the table during open-heart surgery for the first time, he was struck by the quiet, determined way the surgeons walked away. As he soon understood, this detachment is a crucial survival strategy in a profession where death is only a heartbeat away. In Open Heart, Westaby reflects on over 11,000 surgeries, showing us why the procedures have never become routine and will never be. With astonishing compassion, he recounts harrowing and sometimes hopeful stories from his operating room: We meet a pulseless man who lives with an electric heart pump, an expecting mother who refuses surgery unless the doctors let her pregnancy reach full term, and a baby who gets a heart transplant - only to die once it's in place. For fans of Atul Gawande's Being Mortal and of Henry Marsh's Do No Harm, Open Heart offers a soul-baring account of a life spent in constant confrontation with death.

©2017 Steve Westaby (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"Westaby is everything you would hope from a maverick surgical genius: authoritative, engaged, passionate and opinionated. His book, annoyingly well written for someone who has penned only medical papers and handbooks, reads like a thriller, except with rather more corpses." [ The Times (UK)]
"A cracking example of a thriving sub-genre of autobiography, the medical memoir. Anyone who enjoyed the 2014 bestseller Do No Harm by the brain surgeon Henry Marsh, a friend of Westaby's, will relish [this book], too.... Each story is gripping, written in a vivid, almost brutal way that matches the blood and gore of cardiac surgery." ( Financial Times )
"The stakes could not be higher in this bloody, muscular and adrenaline-charged memoir from a pioneering heart surgeon...at points it made my own heart race dangerously." ( Sunday Times)

What listeners say about Open Heart

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    151
  • 4 Stars
    30
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    137
  • 4 Stars
    24
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    134
  • 4 Stars
    25
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating!

Dr. Westaby shares a fascinating story about his career progression and the challenging heart surgeries he has performed over nearly 40 years. I found myself drawn into his narration of each memorable case he details. He goes to great lengths to personalize the intriguing medical stories. I had a hard time stopping the book to take breaks or resume my daily duties. This book makes me respect the medical profession even more. Dr. Westaby thank you for your many years of dedicated service!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Practicing EP

As a practicing EP doc, I greatly enjoyed hearing memoirs and CT surgical history from a excellent, thoughtful and driven surgeon.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Surgeons are no better than Flytiers

It was OK, but still gave it three five star medals, and you might ask Why?
It held my interest because this particular heart surgeon was like no other I have read about, as I believe he believed in God and the randomness of life itself.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Science or luck?

What made the experience of listening to Open Heart the most enjoyable?

All the struggles that Dr. Westaby had to overcome, not just the operation, medical side, but also the emotional side.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Dr. Westaby himself of course, because of his unerring determination to find either a solution or try as best as possible.

Which character – as performed by Gordon Griffin – was your favorite?

This is a strange question because it's not a book of fiction where the narrator plays many characters simultaneously but a biography or choice diaries type.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

At the beginning of the book, about the story of how Dr. Westaby was inspired to become a surgeon was very touching, while the interviews he went through to get to medical sort certainly earned a good chuckle at the very least.

Any additional comments?

After listening to this book, it made me concerned about how medical practices are still so heavily dependent on a doctor's experience, epiphany and luck rather than exacting scientific methods sometimes.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The brutal honesty of the author

This author is so much more brutally honest than most of the physician autobiographies that I've listened to and it is much appreciated. His pride, his insecurities and self-doubts - even after decades in the top of his profession - was refreshing and I enjoyed it a lot.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Open Heart from the heart!

As a US heart surgeon, with a Middle-Eastern beginnings, I loved every bit of this book. I lived through every part of it and felt for the surgeon and the patient at every turn of events. British surgeons are particular about calling themselves "Mister" so I will say that Mister Westaby spoke for a lot of us heart surgeons, and for surgeons in general, and did not forget about patients, nurses and other professionals. It is a human story after all! and Mr Westaby told it and was fair to the story and to the players. I listened to the book twice, so far! I will keep it on my devices for later times. Most importantly, the book came to me in the most timely part of my career. It came as I have become more and more cynical and skeptical of my role. It gave me a boost and reminded me about the "why". It is not about personal conquests, or gains, or fame, or money. It is about people. Thank you, Mr. Westaby!
Tamim

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

1000 audio books purchased...this is the best!

Gobsmacked! The author and narrator are simply the best! I learned so much and really enjoyed it goes without saying.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating book

Strongly recommended for anybody in the Healthcare field or not in Healthcare field to read.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

exciting read if you work in cardiology

The author sounds like he's an awful coworker, but the stories are fascinating. Anyone who works in a medical profession would probably find this very interesting. It's a bit gory for a general audience.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A MUST READ for anyone who has worked in Critical Care Medicine!

As a previous ICU nurse that cared for open heart patients, and now a Nurse Practitioner with my Doctorate, I truly appreciated this book. I could visualize the cases and surgeries themselves. The most profound message lies at the end. Less politics and more focus on saving lives. It’s exactly where medicine needs to get back to. Thank you for sharing this book. A must read for anyone who in the medical field!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!