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Priming the Pump

Heart surgeons are among the superstars of the medical profession, possessing finely tuned skills and a combination of detachment and sheer guts that enables them to carve open fellow human beings and hold the most vital human organ in their hands. In “Open Heart,” British cardiac surgeon Stephen Westaby shares often astonishing stories of his own operating-room experiences, illuminating the science and art of his specialty through the patients whose lives he has saved and, in some cases, lost.

Because the heart is “complex and idiosyncratic,” as Dr. Westaby puts it, there are all sorts of problems that can get in the way of its fundamental function: pumping roughly 2,000 gallons…

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Last Updated : Saturday, January 5, 2019