Life and Death in a Top Heart Center
W. W. Norton & Company, Hardcover, 9780393065626, 317pp.
Publication Date: October 17, 2007
Americans now spend more money on hearts than on new passenger cars. To understand this remarkable trend, Charles R. Morris "embedded" himself with a surgical team at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, one of the world's premier cardiac surgery and transplant centers. Given unprecedented access, Morris witnessed sophisticated operations and observed the tense meetings where surgeons relentlessly criticize their own performance. In thrilling detail, Morris recounts a late-night against-the-clock "harvest run" to secure a precious transplantable organ; the heart-breaking story of a child's failed transplant; a trainee surgeon's brutal daily regimen; and much more. Along the way, Morris documents the fifty years of research and hundreds of millions of dollars that have been expended on creating a reliable mechanical heart, and he steps back to reflect on how doctors think and how they judge each other, what is really driving health care costs, and the future of health care policy in America.