Six pioneering surgeons, six brave patients, six major organs: this is the story of how innovation in the operating theatre made it possible to repair the human body. Each essay examines a revolutionary turning point in surgical history – looking at the human stories behind each development, and the brave contributions made by desperate patients.
Among those vying to find alternatives to major surgery for bladder stones, young doctor Jean Civiale stood out, painstakingly honing a method that was to become the norm.
In 1817 an emergency operation on a London porter was hailed a ‘success’ despite the patient’s swift demise. Find out how this case became a landmark in vascular surgery.
Steak and schnitzel were on the menu again after Theodor Billroth successfully excised a woman’s stomach cancer in 1881. Remarkably, today’s surgeons still perform the same procedure, with slight modifications.
In 1884 a neurologist successfully used a patient’s symptoms, plus a new kind of map, to locate a brain tumour. Discover how his best-laid plans for treatment worked out.
During World War II a young American surgeon working in England perfected shrapnel-removal techniques that saved dozens of lives. Discover how one case sealed his reputation as the founder of cardiac surgery.
About the contributors
Thomas Morris is author of ‘The Matter of the Heart’ and more recently ‘The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine’. He has worked as a radio producer for the BBC on such programmes as ‘Front Row’, ‘Open Book’ and Melvyn Bragg’s ‘In Our Time’, and his journalism has appeared in publications including the Lancet and the Times.
Emily Evans is a medical illustrator and anatomist. After her role as a senior demonstrator of anatomy at Cambridge University, alongside her career illustrating medical and surgical books for over a decade, she now writes and publishes books about anatomy and art, such as ‘Anatomy in Black’, while running her brand, Anatomy Boutique.