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Dallas Morning News columnist Greene (The Santa Claus Bank Robbery, 1972; A Personal Country, 1969) opens this affecting memoir/meditation with his return to consciousness after a heart-transplant operation: ""New heart, new start and--I was determined--a new life."" And before we learn much more about him, he's musing about the place of the heart in myth and human emotions and discussing its physiology and afflictions. Throughout, Greene alternates between snippets of his personal story and medical, technological, and philosophical digressions. He writes at length on the history of organ transplants, organ harvesting, and the current shortfall of donor hearts--which dooms about 15,000 heart patients annually and raises ethical questions about who lives and who dies. Greene also includes a minute-by-minute docudrama of a heart-transplant operation similar to his own. A self-confessed macho Texan, he seems uncomfortable when dealing with his pre-operation physical deterioration and post-op ""cardiac blues."" It is this same pride, however, along with support from his family, that helped him at age 63 to survive and recover from one of the most drastic of surgeries. With tree Texas grit, he hews to the tiresome regimen of the heart transplantee: numerous checkups, a stringent diet-exercise program, and the ingestion of a veritable pharmacopoeia of potentially dangerous medicine. Like many who have brushed death, he has become more appreciative of life's wonders and more prone to reflect on its mysteries, particularly the question of eternal life. An appealing blend of impressive medical reporting, practical advice for heart transplantees, and down-to-earth philosophizing.

Pub Date: July 23rd, 1990
Publisher: Simon & Schuster