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Healing Hearts: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon
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Healing Hearts: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  621 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews

An inspiring, surprising, sometimes shocking, and ultimately deeply informative memoir of the high-stakes, high-pressured life of a female heart surgeon
 Dr. Kathy Magliato is one of the few female heart surgeons practicing in the world today. She is also a member of an even more exclusive group—those surgeons specially trained to perform heart transplants. Heart Matters i
ebook, 272 pages
Published January 26th 2010 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2010)
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Jul 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-boods-read
I would recommend this book to anyone--- and especially women-- interested in learning about heart disease, women breaking through barriers, or stories of real people living and working. It met all three for me, and was an eye opener about women and heart disease. I fell in love with this heart surgeon and her passion for women's health. I picked it up at the library to listen to (and fortunately could listen constantly while doing a 6 hr drive), but will order a hard copy of my own. It is an am ...more
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I have been working in the same departments as described in this memoir. I do remember what a balancing act it was for these cardio-vascular surgions and nurses as well. It was huge when we saved life and we were quiet and respectful often sad with tears in our eyes when we lost one. I think some of the describtions and the language used are a little over-dramatic.
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medical
I love reading anything medical, and "medical memoirs" from doctors are especially fun to read. This one is no exception, and right away you get a real sense of the no-nonsense, straightforward, yet fun and lively personality of the author/doctor. Dr. Magliato is the "female heart surgeon" of the subtitle and she honestly lays out the facts of her life, of her profession (I can't believe it can be so sexist!), and of the drive and hard work that is necessary to even consider such a complex and d ...more
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow, fascinating book! I loved how the book was written. I learned so much, but the material is presented in a very down-to-earth manner. It is the story of how the author came to be one of the few/rare female heart surgeons in the world. She tells of her story of success, but a success fraught with challenges, many of which related to her gender, a rarity in this field. She had much to overcome in addition to the obvious academic challenges. Her ability to endure, even embrace, the physical str ...more
Feb 20, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I guess I'd want a heart surgeon who was self-confident, even arrogant, but reading a book by this heart surgeon was a chore. "I didn't just survive the transplant service in Michigan, I blossomed from it. Intense, smart, focused, I returned to Ohio ready to take on the remaining years of my surgical residency." Gloat much? Although it contains some interesting info on women's heart health, the rest is a combination of self-promotion and bad motivational speaker-ese.
Barbara Frank
I've enjoyed Heartbeat, the TV show based on this physician, so wanted to read about the real doctor. Interesting but Dr. Magliato is just so full of herself that her ego takes up way too much space in the book. I'm sure she is brilliant and a terrific surgeon but this was mostly a "brag" book about how much she can accomplish in any given day. She is the ultimate multi-tasker. Had there been any humility in this book, I'd have enjoyed it much more.
Natalia Nayyar
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book full of sarcastic, dark , twisted humor. Not to forget to mention there are loads of interesting and fascinating facts and information! I would add that this book could be a guide for girls who want to be surgeons and how to survive in a shark like men dominated field of cardio ! Since now, Dr Kathy Magliato is a kind of superwoman for me and My dream is to become as good and strong surgeon like her . Wish me good luck people! :)
Dec 07, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hcl
My word what challenging read. I got about halfway through, maybe a little more. I felt like I was reading a novel with an unreliable narrator. Where you have to filter out the bluster and cliche to get an idea of what actually happened, or what other people might have to say about what the narrator is describing.
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable medical memoir

I loved reading the stories from the woman surgeons point of view. Her struggles being a women in a typical men's profession and trying to be a both a career woman and a good mother are totally relatable.
Jim Gleason
Feeling overwhelmed in your life? Pressured? Then read this book and feel what overwhelming and pressured is really like through the eyes of this heart transplant surgeon, not just any surgeon, but a female who is also mother with children and sharing life with a husband who is a liver transplant surgeon. Talk about balancing busy and stressful lives! This is an exciting read, following the transformation of a young girl’s dreams into the reality of living her passion for the heart as one who da ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, medical
If you like medical memoirs this one is one of the best. The author became a heart surgeon when that was rare for a woman but that is not the main focus of the book. The cases she works on are interesting but she focuses more on the human aspect than the medical aspect. You can feel how much she loves her job and cares about her patients. I love her sense of humor when she is talking about some stressful situations. I would have liked her to talk more about how insurance companies make her job m ...more
Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It is a good book in that it's a quick read and helps to understand a surgeons perspective on many facets of life. I feel very strongly though that it mischaracterizes health insurance and reimbursement for hospital services. Hospitals knowingly and willingly engage in contracts with insurance with clear parameters on payment. The 10% paid is as much a factor of hospital billing practices and their use of the charge master to over state costs of goods and services.

That particular chapter spoile
Doaa Mahely
Jun 08, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I want to give this half a star.
It's so bad and full of cliches, and I'm at least 95% sure half the stuff that the author says happened to her have never happened.
She says that a doctor's life isn't anything like Grey's Anatomy but then she spews more drama in a chapter than the combined 13 seasons of GA had! It took me three months to finish because I could only read one chapter a week. Every time I'd pick up this book, I'd be stunned with Dr Kathy's ego and self-importance.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Girls and women of all ages should read this book for a couple of reasons: it's an inspiring story of a successful woman in a traditionally male profession. And we women need to know more about heart disease and how to avoid our #1 killer. The doctor's passion for life shines throughout the book. She and her husband (also a doctor) manage their jobs, their marriage, and their family with exquisite timing, energy, planning, and love. A truly positive, uplifting book.
Sep 21, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book, written by a female heart surgeon, about her experience as a doctor, seemed right up my alley, being a nurse and loving all things medical. Wow, if only it were so! Talk about smug, I am the hero, I am the smartest, best person to save my patients!

I had to stop after the second chapter because I couldn't stand one more word from this pompous, self-aggrandizing, ego-maniacal person. She does the chest compressions in CPR! And rides atop the patient into surgery where they prep her int
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I loved Kathy Magliato’s account of the trials and accomplishment of being a woman in medical school, and eventually, becoming a cardiothoracic (heart and chest) surgeon. She describes her encounters with crazy mentors and inspirational patients and how she managed to succeed in her field.
Kathy describes how she first discovered she wanted to become a heart surgeon; when she was an intern and had to save a life. She says how she helped an older surgeon stop a leak in an artery in someone's ches
Jul 08, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent book about what it takes to become a female cardio thoracic surgeon along with some neat stats about heart disease in females today. The figures on how many women are afflicted with heart disease were depressing however informative. I like the way she presents the information and even makes the medical stuff easy to understand for people who are not from a medical background.

However I really dislike the way she turns herself into a constant super hero. The truth is that he
Georgia Herod
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magliato goes back to her earliest desire to become a surgeon and then tells the great obstacles and difficulties that she encountered in that pursuit. That she completes every demand, even when her physical energy and stamina are pushed to the limit—and when emotionally she is spent, reveals her internal fortitude and her persistent perseverance. Simultaneously she also focuses on women’s health issues—and stresses the significance of women “knowing their numbers” and paying attention to their ...more
Jul 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Part I
I think that this woman thinks she is a better writer than she actually is. I've never seen so many cliches (literally) gathered in the pages of one book before! The topic is interesting - she is one of the few female heart transplant surgeons in the world. That's why I'm sticking it out. However, I can't believe user reviews on Amazon give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. For someone who is a surgeon, she wrote this book with a very heavy hand.

Part II
I finished the book and ended up liking it but
Alveera EVHS Khan
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a very inspiring and interesting book. It summed up the experiences that the renowned heart surgeon, Dr. Kathy Magliato, has to go through, both physical and emotional. I really enjoyed reading it because I am very interested in medicine, and it taught me that there is an extremely difficult journey to becoming a doctor, one filled with gender stereotypes and long, hard hours interning. Yet despite this difficult journey, the reward of giving people a second chance at life is defin ...more
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was good book! I thought this memoir felt a little stuck up at first but between my studying and leisure time, this was not too bad. It really highlights the sexism- I wasn't too educated about- in the medical world. She talks about real medical stories and it was very nice to hear such a successful story. It was deep and entertaining. I won't lie... I skimmed a few boring parts but mostly, just the gibberish symbolic stuff. I loved her personal life and her movement to her career, which wa ...more
A nice read on the life of an interesting person. I liked the way Magliato integrated experiences of her youth and personal life with her professional experiences. I learned a few things about heart disease and surgery that are just not available from many people. While some parts did seem to me like "filler" late in the book (drama in the elevator ride to the morgue), there was an insightful chapter late in the book on her MBA persuit including her outlook on the future of heart surgery. Overal ...more
Sep 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I admit that I didn't totally finish the last two chapters of this book. While it was interesting to see the medical dramas in real life, I really struggled to get into the book. I liked that she addressed cliches and the difference between what insurance companies are billed and what the hospitals actually make. It was interesting to see that perspective. However, I felt the whole thing dragged on longer than it needed to, with each chapter being choppy and disconnected from the ones before and ...more
Steven Tomcavage
It wasn't until I finished this book and was discussing it with my wife that I realized that the author never discussed times when she failed. There were plenty of surgical mishaps in the book, but they always seemed to happen to other doctors. Her patients, if they died, died from things like pulmonary embolisms that wouldn't have been found in heart surgery. Still, it was an interesting read about the challenges of balancing family with a career as demanding of your time as heart transplant su ...more
Feb 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
if i had to have heart surgery, i would want dr. magliato to do it.

women please pay attention to the following:

more women than men die of heart disease every year. our symptoms are different. half of all women do not get chest pain. most common symptoms women report are:
*left-arm pain
*jaw pain
*neck/throat pain
*shortness of breath

also know your numbers for good heart health.

blood pressure <120/80 mmHg
total cholesterol <200 mg/dl
good cholesterol (
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last few chapters weren't as exciting as I had expected them to be, but the book was still very interesting. I really enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend it! It's also one of the best medical reads I have read so far! :) however, I must earn you, the author is very arrogant, she self advertises a lot, and she also never mentions any of her own actual failures (especially in surgery). Also, she gloats a lot too. Still, the book was worth it. And after all, I believe she has earned the ...more
Mary Anderson
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Magliato's memoir. She discussed her climb to become one of the few female heart surgeons. She wrote so that those of us not in the medical field would understand the obstacles faced by female doctors and nurses, the various types of heart surgeries, and what it takes for her to balance her family and her career.

Not only would I like Dr. Magliato to be my surgeon if I ever needed one, but I would also like her to be my friend. I could listen to her stories for hundreds
Feb 22, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women, nurses, doctors
Quick,easy read and I became quickly engrossed in it. I did enjoy it a lot however there were a couple of times throughout the book that I felt the author was "tooting her own horn" a bit too much- but what do I know? I have much respect for any woman who has accomplished what she has and shattered the glass ceiling of the male-dominated world of surgery. Dr. Magliato proves that women "can have it all".
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting memoir of a woman in the highly competitive, prohibitively male-dominated field of cardiac surgery. The author conveys her love for cardiac surgery, as well as her struggle to retain a traditional family life as a wife and mother. She places special emphasis on women's heart health. Enlightening and encouraging, this memoir is particularly recommended for female professionals juggling a career and a family.
Jul 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Well-written memoir about what it takes to become a female heart surgeon, including her grueling internship where she once had been awake for so long she stood in a daze in the hospital corridor and wondered to herself, "Does a person have one heart and two lungs, or two hearts and one lung?" Whoa! Apparently heart surgery is still predominantly a man's domain, and the author is candid in describing her many challenges as she pursues her chosen field.
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“Sometimes we must yield control to others and accept our vulnerability so we can be healed.” 47 likes
“I think that is the very definition of a family: a group of individuals, bound by the essence of love, who share a life together and yet maintain their unique individuality.” 17 likes
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