Few of the great stories of medicine are as palpably dramatic as the advent of open heart surgery, yet until now, no journalist has ever brought to life all of the thrilling specifics of this triumph. G. Wayne Miller tells the story of Dr. C. Walton Lillehei, who, along with colleagues at University Hospital in Minneapolis and a small band of pioneers elsewhere, accomplished what many experts considered to be an impossible feat: he opened the heart, repaired fatal defects, and made the miraculous routine.
Miller draws on archival research and exclusive interviews with Lillehei and legendary pioneers such as Michael DeBakey and Christiaan Barnard, taking readers into the lives of these doctors and their patients as they progress toward their landmark achievement. Beginning in the 1950s with highly unorthodox operations simultaneously on two people - experiments that in today's political climate might not be possible - Lillehei and his colleagues took risks that resulted in rivers of blood and cost the lives of several early patients. But ultimately this is a story of triumph: King of Hearts is a true life-and-death drama about the surgeons who risked their reputations, and the patients who risked their lives, to revolutionize health care.
A well written biography of the surgeon who saw advanced heart surgery change from a dream to a common occurrence.
I found the first chapters a bit tedious - lots of details and times and places, but that sets the scene for the rest of the story, and it is a truly fascinating story of the trials and tribulations of the relatively small groups of people with not much more than inspiration and lab dogs who came up with the tools and ideas to pioneer heart surgery. It is amazing how such advanced surgery became possible with such seemingly primitive techniques. Beyond the story of the surgeries there are more than a few twists and turns in the personal life of Walton Lillehei.
The story is also well read - however I did find the speed of narration slow and ended up listening to it at 1.5 speed.
This is the amazing story of the development of the first open heart surgery in the 1950's. The medical background is easy enough for a non-medical person to understand but remains highly engaging even for a medical professional. I am a medical history enthusiast and this book goes right near the top of the list and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys understanding how scientific and medical breakthroughs occur. Perhaps the only book I enjoyed more was "The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat" chronicling the development of penicillin.
King of Hearts is a great book and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
This book was excellent. The narration was superb. The story was interesting and captivating. This story exemplifies the idea that fact can be more intriguing than fiction.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Great story, but what I want to say is: great narration! First American narrator I've found who has a sense of pace and does not find every word of every sentence freighted with meaning. I'm sorry if that sounds un-American because I am one, but I'm constantly looking for books narrated by Brits. Or, from now on, Patrick Cullen.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
This is an amazing story about the invention of open heart surgery and the artificial heart. Highly recommend that everyone listen to this, as well as Splendid Solution on the invention of the polio vaccine.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I had no idea how open heart surgery developed and now I will never forget.
I fully recommend this book to anyone interested in heart surgery or cardiovascular perfusion. It details, with clear description, the interesting story surrounding heart surgery and the journey to its perfection. Very well-written and interesting throughout. The narrator has a pleasant voice which (uncommon for me) I found to actually improve the character of the story.
Fantastic book overall. My only gripe is that the book chapters don't get their own audio book chapters. Seemed odd for me, and could be potentially confusing if I wanted to go back to a particular part of the book.
I have listened to this book several times and each time I have learned more about the history of open heart surgery. The procedures, time, experiments, inventions of Dr. C. Walton Lillehei are truly amazing to me. I am thankful for all that Dr. Lillehei accomplished in his life. My dad benefitted from Dr. Lillehei's passion and perseverance.
Excellent naration, excellent subject.
if you're a medical student this book is a must listen.this book motivated me to a great extent.now we can learn how to practice open heart surgeries with books and ive never wondered who did it first.this story was so enlightening that i decided to specialize in cardiovasculolgy in the future.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful