When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon

When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon

At the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Joshua Mezrich creates life from loss, transplanting organs from one body to another. In this intimate, profoundly moving work, he illuminates the extraordinary field of transplantation that enables this kind of miracle to happen every day.

When Death Becomes Life is a thrilling look at how science advances on a grand scale to improve human lives. Mezrich examines more than one hundred years of remarkable medical breakthroughs, connecting this fascinating history with the inspiring and heartbreaking stories of his transplant patients. Combining gentle sensitivity with scientific clarity, Mezrich reflects on his calling as a doctor and introduces the modern pioneers who made transplantation a reality—maverick surgeons whose feats of imagination, bold vision, and daring risk taking generated techniques and practices that save millions of lives around the world.

Mezrich takes us inside the operating room and unlocks the wondrous process of transplant surgery, a delicate, intense ballet requiring precise timing, breathtaking skill, and at times, creative improvisation. In illuminating this work, Mezrich touches the essence of existence and what it means to be alive. Most physicians fight death, but in transplantation, doctors take from death. Mezrich shares his gratitude and awe for the privilege of being part of this transformative exchange as the dead give their last breath of life to the living. After all, the donors are his patients, too.

When Death Becomes Life also engages in fascinating ethical and philosophical debates: How much risk should a healthy person be allowed to take to save someone she loves? Should a patient suffering from alcoholism receive a healthy liver? What defines death, and what role did organ transplantation play in that definition? The human story behind the most exceptional medicine of our time, Mezrich’s riveting book is a beautiful, poignant reminder that a life lost can also offer the hope of a new beginning.

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    When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon Reviews

  • Petra Eggs

    5 star book. Really excellent. Review to come. The history of transplantation is actually interesting, as is the sensitive use of language that has evolved alongside it. Surgeons no longer 'harvest' o...

  • India Clamp

    Consider five lives can be impacted positively with a body donation via surgical transplantation. While Dr. Joshua D. Mezrich covers over 100 years of surgical transplant history and entices you into ...

  • Gina

    There is a reason this book has a 96% 5-star rating on Amazon.As someone who has been interested in medicine since I was a young child, I tend to read a lot of books such as this one. This is one of t...

  • Ryan Boissonneault

    It is an underappreciated fact that today a surgeon can, if needed, rip open your chest, remove your heart, replace it with another one, and if all goes well, have you discharged in 10 days. This amaz...

  • Kazen

    3.5 starsBooks by doctors who wield scalpels are some of my favorites, and Mezrich does a great job introducing the reader to the history and current practice of transplant surgery.The good:- This is ...

  • Katie/Doing Dewey

    Summary: This book was a mixed bag for me, with some parts that were far more interesting than others and a tone that varied from too formal to too informal to spot on.This is one of the many recent r...

  • Rebecca

    In this debut memoir a surgeon surveys the history of organ transplantation, recalling his own medical education and the special patients he’s met along the way. In the 1940s and 1950s patient after...

  • April Greissinger

    Big thanks to Harper Books for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!I LOVED this book and I will definitely be thinking about it for a long time! I am in the medical fi...

  • Susan LeGrand Levine

    To give is to receive...I did and this one thing I know!This book describes in detail the heroes (and their stories)who blazed the trail of transplantation. Being a donor and having a healthy husband ...

  • Chris C

    2.5 This is a decent medical book but after the glorious writing in Emperor of Maladies it is somewhat deficient. For instance, the writer delineates a certain operation but I have no idea to which th...