Fragile Lives by Stephen Westaby (Book Review 014)


‘Fragile lives’ by Stephen Westaby is the first technical book I have read from the field of surgery and medicine. Having read books from Atul Gawande, I must admit that ‘fragile lives’ was more on the technical side, but one cannot expect the author to narrate his incredible life experiences, otherwise.

Having said that I shall admit that the book is very gripping, and the language of the book is simple and easier to follow that most other books. One may do oneself a favour by watching online a few animation videos of parts of heart and heart anatomy to better appreciate the author’s impressive and breath-taking descriptions of surgeries.

The author is a heart surgeon of world renown and conducted surgeries in multiple countries across the world. It is heartening to read that his charity has supported critical, life-saving surgeries that neither the statutory government authorities nor any other medical organisations wanted to fund and support. The installation of pumping machines and the description of the wiring insertion through the neck and fitment of the power socket on the skull is thrilling and heartening to learn that medical science can offer a new lease of life to near-death heart failure victims.

The author does not delve much into his personal life but towards the end of the book when he thanks everyone from his life, I understand how people like the author must give up their personal and family life in the service of humankind. So often I see that the topmost doctors from any super speciality have a tough time with their families due to the workload and my heart goes out to their spouses and children. I am very moved when the author says that sometimes he slept over at the hospital even after being done with his day to available with his patient in case of any overnight emergencies.

This one is an all-star, must-read book that I strongly recommend.