Autobiography of a surgeon internationally recognized for his expertise in heart and lung transplants.
Jamieson (Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery/Univ. of California, San Diego), named a “Living Legend” by the World Society of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, writes with assurance and aplomb about his achievements. Even readers who have never heard of cyclosporine or been inside an operating room will relish this account, which is set in Africa, England, and the United States. In the first few chapters, the author gives us a taste of life in Rhodesia as it was for middle-class whites before the country became Zimbabwe. Jamieson provides wonderful stories of his brushes with wild animals in the bush and rather grim ones of the cold brutality of the boys school to which he was sent when he was 8. During his adolescence, “Rhodesia was coming apart”; when the author was 19, he left for London to begin his medical training. Perhaps the most astonishing part of this section, also full of stories of colleagues and patients, is the Rothschild episode. Jamieson won a major award from the ultrawealthy banking family, and after one of his projects caught the attention of Yvonne Rothschild, she invited him to her 200-room estate, and they became friends. The American section of the tale, which begins in 1978, features the author’s characteristic hard work, which led to great success and a meteoric career rise as well as clashing personalities, career infighting, job changes, and plenty of patients with life-threatening problems. While telling his own story, Jamieson also interweaves a history of heart transplants. He has little love for the South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard, who gained fame for performing the first heart transplant, but he offers plenty of warm regard for Denton Cooley, Norman Shumway, and the many others who created a new field of surgery.
A well-told story by a man of great accomplishment who is clearly proud—and rightly so.