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How Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon
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How Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  32 ratings  ·  21 reviews

Gripping and evocative, How Death Becomes Life takes us inside the operating room and presents the stark dilemmas that transplant surgeons must face daily:

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?

The human story behind the most exceptional medicine of our

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 2nd 2019 by Atlantic Books
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4.09  · 
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 ·  32 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star
Brilliant and awe inspiring; I couldn’t put this part memoir part transplant history book down. The author is a renowned surgeon specialising in the field of life saving transplants, primarily livers and kidneys. He describes in great detail the complexities of the actual operations and does not neglect to draw focus onto issues such as consent, ethical dilemmas and human error within the surgical field.

As a nurse, this book intrigued and fascinated me all together. The author details cases of s
Linda Hepworth
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Although in his introduction to his book transplant surgeon Joshua Mezrich claims “the following book is neither a memoir nor a complete history of transplantation”, in fact it encompasses elements of both. In the first couple of hundred pages he highlights key moments in research and experimentation, from the late nineteenth century through to the remarkable work being done today. He expresses his admiration for the early pioneers of transplant surgery, doctors who were determined and courageou
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about the experiences of a surgeon Joshua Mezrich, bringing the reader snapshots of medical history to fit in with the narrative. The writing is smooth the subject matter is at times challenging but very interesting, naturally this is not for the squeamish.

As a non-medical professional, the only time you will come up against the world of hospitals will be from personal experience. I have been in hospital wards waiting for a friend or relative, anxious, hesitant, with a lurking ba
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How Death Becomes Life, a tale of life behind the doors of the operating theatre, is a timely release. Memoirs such as This is Going to Hurt and Hard Pushed have piqued interest in the lives of medical staff: this new addition adds a new layer to our general understanding of hospital life.

Mezrich offers fascinating insights into the world of transplant surgery: its history, its ethics, its successes and its failures. Detailed accounts of the evolution of transplantation are interspersed with pe
Already a fan of medical non fiction having read Critical by Dr Matt Morgan and This may hurt by Adam Kay among others this book had a lot to live up to. I noticed the cover first which grabbed my attention to it being a medical story before I even read the synopsis. I found this book both interesting and informative but it didn’t have the endearing features that the other fore mentioned books did . I liked that it features real cases which was my favourite part and how the life changing decisio ...more
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joshua Mezrich is upfront stating this book is part memoir and part a history of how transplants are a possibility but not a full history of either.

As a Brit I found reading the experiences of an American surgeon within the context of their health care system very interesting and opened my eyes to how it developed.

I like the layout, very well done, it clearly discusses the different organs interwoven with the history of the ability to transplant each one and rounds off with looking at individua
Sarah Goldthorpe

I’m not a great reader of non fiction however the subject of transplantation interests and fascinates me so the chance of getting a greater insight into this fascinating speciality really appealed. I have no medical background but found this reasonably easy to understand although the names and functions of some body parts did go over my head a little after a while.

The book is a mix of history and personal experiences, many of which are if the author although some are third hand. I found the his
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A thought-provoking insight into organ transplantation, past and present

How Death Becomes Life is a fascinating, thought-provoking and often emotive insight into organ transplantation, past and present. The book contains a wealth of stories about the pioneers of organ transplantation, as well as first-hand accounts of present-day organ transplantation surgery. It also touches on ethical, legal and social issues relating to organ transplantation and ponders on potential advances in the field.

As a
Emma (escapetothebookshelf)
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by this book! This book is a nice mix of the history of organ transplantation and Dr Mezrich's own personal experiences as a transplant surgeon.

It did take me a while to get going with this book as it starts off with a LOT of the history which involved a lot of medical terms. There were parts at the beginning where I found myself skim-reading which was disappointing as I do try hard not to do this with books. Nonetheless, I still felt well educated on transplantation'
Angela L
If you have an interest in medicine/surgery this will be right up your alley. It covers a multitude of history/information regarding transplant surgery. It covers pretty much all transplant surgery - from the pancreas, liver, heart and kidney.
As someone who has no great anatomical knowledge I found a lot of it a little over complicated and not especially interesting.
What was more of a "lay persons" read were some of the true life stories. Obviously, for the majority of transplants, someone has t
Leanne Jephcott
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first started this book it seemed that there was a lot of medical jargon that I did not understand but considering the complex topic this book is about, the author has done well to keep the medical speak to a minimum and explains what is written so I didn’t feel to lost.

I like how this book goes back to the roots of organ transplant and you learn about what the pioneers went though to get organ transplant to what it is today.

I think this was well written and a topic I had not given much
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first started reading this book I found it a little hard going and fact heavy, but what made it unputdownable was the fact that interlaced with the incredible histories of trial and error of various transplants throughout the years, were the heart wrenching stories involving real operations and real people. The cases of young teachers with liver failure, alcoholics, for whom people wondered whether a transplant was ethically the best option, as well as little ones who had fallen down the ...more
Jane Blake
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about transplant surgeon,Dr Joshua Mezrich and follows him as he goes along.
The book is written very well and not to over complicated that you don’t know the medical jargon, you really don’t need too.
It has some history of the transplants which is very interesting.
DR Joshua Mezrich has big decisions to make every time an organ can be used, you can feel that he wants to give it to the person that wants a full life and isn’t going to do anything that would jeopardise that. Would he
Zoe Woodend
I picked this up having enjoyed 'This is going to hurt' so much however it is a different format as it is half autobiographical and half a descriptive read about the history and ethics behind transplant surgery. I found it quite hard to get into at first as I'm not from a medical background and there was quite a lot of technical jargon which nearly lead me to abandon it but I stuck with it and enjoyed the second half much more as it focused on interesting cast studies such as 'should an alcoholi ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I found ‘How death becomes life’ absolutely fascinating. I enjoyed every single page of this book and have learnt much about a topic/procedures that are continually being discussed, are truly life changing and huge for humans and science. The author doesn’t shy away from the difficulties in his work, such as working with the families of the deceased, other surgeons, the harvesting and transplanting of organs, even the challenges of getting from one place to another. There was also mu
Tris Pyrrhic
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Educational and insightful

This book covers the history of surgeries and transplants and how this affected our practices nowawadays. It also includes many of Doctor Mezrich’s own experiences as a surgeon himself.
The first half of the book mainly focused on the history and progress of transplants. Although it was very informative, I was slowed down by some of the medical terms used. It would have been very helpful if simpler terminology would have been used.
The last parts of the book focuses on
Rachael Simmons

I find books of this style very interesting and so jumped at the chance to read and review this one. The way the book is structured makes it very easy to read and although it delivers quite a bit of history surrounding organ transplant as well as the authors accounts I felt this was a very informative style and layout. However for the average reader this may be a bit to medical and might run the risk of being slightly boring! I liked the way the chapters were set out and also enjoyed reading the
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is written by an American transplant surgeon who provides an excellent insight into this very important field.
He details the practicalities that surgeons need to consider how they can be called in at any hour of the night or day and clearly explains the processes involved.
This book would be useful to anyone who wants to know a bit more about how organ transplants happen, whether you are personally involved or just curious about this area.
He anonymises information about the actual pa
Victoria Butterworth
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mezrich very much succeeded in his aim of making the story of transplantation accessible in a way Mukherjee did with cancer in "The Emperor of All Maladies".
My only complaint was that made it made me cry on the Tube at one point, but I guess all good books should strive to achieve that!
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderfully written! It truly is part memoir part history book. Genuinely couldn’t put it down
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How Death Becomes Life by Joshua Mezrich is an insightful look at the history of transplantation and the evolution of modern practices. The book covers many milestones in history as well as touching on Mezrich's own experiences as a surgeon.

The first two thirds of the book mainly looked at history and progress with a few of Mezrich's own personal stories sprinkled in. This was very interesting and informative, however I was sometimes bogged down by some of the medical terminology and this hinde
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May 06, 2019
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Jun 24, 2019
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“The sick suffer alone, they undergo procedures and surgeries alone, and in the end, they die alone. Transplant is different. Transplant is all about having someone else join you in your illness. It may be in the form of an organ from a recently deceased donor, a selfless gift given by someone has never met you, or a kidney or liver from a relative, friend or acquaintance. In every case, someone is saying, in effect, “Let me join you in the recovery, your suffering, your fear of the unknown, your desire to become healthy, to get your life back. Let me bear some of your risk with you.” 0 likes
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