Wendy Moore

Priming the Pump

Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table


HarperCollins 340pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

The first time Stephen Westaby witnessed a heart operation, he was an eighteen-year-old medical student hiding in an abandoned observation gallery above the operating theatre. The patient, a young woman, died amid a torrent of blood. Despite, or because of, this traumatic introduction, Westaby went on to dedicate his life to open-heart surgery, performing daring operations on some of the youngest, most vulnerable and most hopeless patients, in the process becoming a world leader in his field. Now facing the prospect of putting away his scalpel for good, Westaby has chosen to bare his own heart in a profoundly powerful and disturbing memoir. 

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