THE RISK TAKERS

OUTLINE

Is the first popular history of heart surgery, from the moment on September 9, 1895 that the German surgeon Ludwig Rehn dared operate on a human heart to repair a stab wound. His patient, Wilhelm Justus, survived. With that operation, Rehn stripped away most of the myth and prejudice surrounding the human heart. In England thirty years later, another surgeon, Henry Soutar, actually opened the hart to open a blocked valve with his finger and save his patient’s life. Bit by bit, surgeons mastered the heart. A German thrust a catheter tube down a vein into his own heart and X-rayed the process; Americans carried out the first Blue Baby operations and others corrected congenital defects. Then along came the machines which allowed the heart to be taken out of the system and open-heart operations performed on a still organ. This opened the way in 1967 to heart transplants which nowadays are routine.

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