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Hardy Hendren and Surgical Wonder at Children's Hospital

by G. Wayne Miller

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-40264-0
Publisher: Random House

 An engrossing profile of Hardy Hendren, chief of surgery at Boston's Children's Hospital, whose skills are devoted to undoing ``nature's worst mistakes.'' Miller, a staff writer for Rhode Island's Providence Journal-Bulletin, entwines a second tale with Hendren's--that of a family (the ``Moores'') whose daughter Lucy is born in late l989 with gross deformities affecting many of her internal organs. The two stories come together in the OR at Children's Hospital, where Hendren spends over 16 hours undoing the anatomic confusion of 14-month-old Lucy's body. Miller heightens the suspense of this scene, which spans most of the book, by repeatedly stepping away to describe Hendren's life--his childhood, schooling, military service, marriage, family, relations with colleagues, even his strong opinions on malpractice lawyers (``scurrilous, unprincipled bastards''), the ACLU (``weirdos and creeps''), and the high crime-rate (he favors public executions). Nicknamed ``Hardly Human'' for his bedside manner or perhaps his prodigious memory, or, even more likely, for his OR stamina, Hendren at 64 is a surgeon at the peak of his career, highly confident and highly competent. Although concentrating on Hendren as a tough M.D., Miller also shows him as a devoted husband, a father helpless to cure his own daughter's diabetes, and a proud grandfather. Occasionally, Miller overdetails Hendren's biographical background and includes material that seems to belong in some other book (the story of one Max Warburg's leukemia is unrelated to either Hendren or the Moores). Miller is at his riveting best when describing surgery and the atmosphere of the OR. A well-researched, well-told tale of surgical expertise transforming bodies and lives. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs- -not seen.)