When Death Becomes Life is a beautifully written tribute to science, medicine, and humanity, viewed through the capable lens of a transplant surgeon. Joshua Mezrich synthesizes over 100 years of medical history, shares extraordinary stories about his patients, and writes emotionally and joyously about his own life's work. A remarkable and inspiring memoir. Recommended By Jill O., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"Although When Death Becomes Life is about courage and innovation and dedication, it is foremost a book about hope.... This monumental and enthralling history of one of modern medicine's most rousing triumphs is a definitive testament to that hope, and to the brave physicians and patients whose sacrifices made it possible." New York Journal of Books
A gifted surgeon illuminates one of the most profound, awe-inspiring, and deeply affecting achievements of modern day medicine — the movement of organs between bodies — in this exceptional work of death and life that takes its place besides Atul Gawande's Complications, Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Emperor of All Maladies, and Jerome Groopman's How Doctors Think.
At the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Joshua Mezrich creates life from loss, transplanting organs from one body to another. In this intimate, profoundly moving work, he illuminates the extraordinary field of transplantation that enables this kind of miracle to happen every day.
When Death Becomes Life is a thrilling look at how science advances on a grand scale to improve human lives. Mezrich examines more than one hundred years of remarkable medical breakthroughs, connecting this fascinating history with the inspiring and heartbreaking stories of his transplant patients. Combining gentle sensitivity with scientific clarity, Mezrich reflects on his calling as a doctor and introduces the modern pioneers who made transplantation a reality — maverick surgeons whose feats of imagination, bold vision, and daring risk taking generated techniques and practices that save millions of lives around the world.
Mezrich takes us inside the operating room and unlocks the wondrous process of transplant surgery, a delicate, intense ballet requiring precise timing, breathtaking skill, and at times, creative improvisation. In illuminating this work, Mezrich touches the essence of existence and what it means to be alive. Most physicians fight death, but in transplantation, doctors take from death. Mezrich shares his gratitude and awe for the privilege of being part of this transformative exchange as the dead give their last breath of life to the living. After all, the donors are his patients, too.
When Death Becomes Life also engages in fascinating ethical and philosophical debates: 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? What defines death, and what role did organ transplantation play in that definition? The human story behind the most exceptional medicine of our time, Mezrich's riveting book is a beautiful, poignant reminder that a life lost can also offer the hope of a new beginning.
"An extraordinary and deftly-crafted combination of medical history and personal memoir, When Death Becomes Life should be a part of every community, college, and university library collection." Midwest Book Review
"When Death Becomes Life braids unflinching medical history with frank clinical memoir. . . . there are no demigods in the world of transplant, just especially ambitious and unquesy humans." Wall Street Journal
"An attention-grabbing and candid look at human organ transplantation... Success through perseverance is this book's main theme, and Mezrich does a commendable job sharing his death-to-life experiences in a vital field." Publishers Weekly
"An outstanding memoir by a transplant surgeon who combines an autobiography and operating room dramatics with an equally engrossing history of his profession.... Medical memoirs have become a significant genre over the past two decades, and this one ranks near the top, in a class that includes the best." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
About the Author
A graduate of Cornell Medical School, Joshua Mezrich, MD, is an associate professor of surgery in the division of multi-organ transplantation at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.