Two new books explore how surgeons must be resolute and mercilessby Joanna Bourke / June 21, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
The Matter of the Heart: A History of the Heart in Eleven Operations by Thomas Morris (Bodley Head, £20)
Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £16.99)
Stephanie and Goobers were born seven months apart. Goobers was a healthy female but Stephanie suffered from hypoplastic left-heart syndrome—in other words, the left-hand side of her heart was underdeveloped. Two weeks after Stephanie’s birth, at the Loma Linda Medical Centre in California in October 1984, Goobers was killed on her behalf. Goobers’s walnut-sized heart was excised and sewn into Stephanie’s chest. The twist is that although Stephanie was a human baby, Goobers was a baboon.
For three weeks, Stephanie’s simian heartbeat kept her alive. The Times even reported that the five-pound baby was “sucking strongly, crying lustily and as cute as a button.” Then, as a result of the drugs and progressive graft necrosis, Stephanie’s kidneys and heart failed.