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Rosetta Books (2019-03)
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The Journey of a Pioneer Heart Surgeon

by Jamieson, Stuart

Taut, elegantly written, and ever-attentive to the patients for whom heart surgeon Stuart Jamieson was the last best chance, Close to the Sun is a riveting account of the life of an extraordinary man, based on his experience performing over 40,000 surgeries where everything was on the line, every moment, in the operating room.

Jamieson has lived two lives. One began in heat and dust. Born to British ex-pats in colonial Africa, Jamieson was sent at the age of eight to a local boarding school where heartless instructors bullied and tormented their students. In the summers he escaped to fish on crocodile-infested rivers and explore the African bush. As a teenager, an apprenticeship with one of Africa's most fabled trackers taught Jamieson how to deal with dangerous game and even more dangerous poachers, lessons that would later serve him well in the high-stakes career he chose.

Jamieson's second life unfolded when he went to London to study medicine during the turbulent 1960s, leaving behind the only home he knew as it descended into revolution. Brilliant and self-assured, Jamieson advanced quickly in the still-new field of open-heart surgery. It was a fraught time. For patients with terminal heart disease, heart transplants were the new hope. But poor outcomes had all but ended the procedure.

In 1978 Jamieson went to America and to Stanford University - the only cardiac center in the world doing heart transplants successfully. There Jamieson's pioneering work on the anti-rejection drug cyclosporine would help to make heart transplantation (and lung transplantation) a routine life-saving operation. It is still the way it's done today, and Jamieson continues to train the next generation of heart surgeons.

Stuart Jamieson, named a "Living Legend" by the World Society of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, writes with assurance and aplomb about his achievements and his adventures. Even readers who have never heard of cyclosporine or been inside an operating room will relish this account.

Dr. Jamieson is the Endowed Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery, Distinguished Professor of Surgery, and Dean of Cardiovascular Affairs at the University of California, San Diego. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Chest Physicians, and a Doctor Honoris Causa of the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich. Away from the hospital, Dr. Jamieson is a cattle rancher, commercial helicopter pilot, and he collects and studies ancient medical manuscripts and antique watches.

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A well-told story by a man of great accomplishment who is clearly proud - and rightly so.

Review: Kirkus

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