• 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
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 06-20-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio
  • 5 out of 5 stars 4.8 (44 ratings)

Regular price: $29.65

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Publisher's Summary

One of the world's leading heart surgeons shares the hard-won lessons of a life lived where failure and death are just a heartbeat away.
When Stephen Westaby witnessed a patient die on the table during an 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 was a crucial survival strategy. In a profession where failure is literally a heartbeat away and the cost of that failure is death, how else could he live with the consequences of his performance?
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 and candor, Dr. Westaby recounts the fraught and alarming 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 transplanted heart - only to die once it's in place. Open Heart offers unforgettable insight into how to push back death until nothing is left to do but to accept it.
©2017 Steve Westaby (P)2017 Hachette Audio
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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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Han-Ching Chiu on 04-17-18

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.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Tammie Hanebuth on 04-04-18


Couldn't put it down. This is a fascinating story of a remarkable man and his quest to prevent useless death from treatable disease.

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