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Heart Matters: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon

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An inspiring, surprising, sometimes shocking, and ultimately deeply informative memoir of the high-stakes, high-pressured life of a female heart surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato is one of the few female heart surgeons practicing in the world today. She is also a member of an even more exclusive group—those surgeons specially trained to perform heart transplants. Heart Matters i An inspiring, surprising, sometimes shocking, and ultimately deeply informative memoir of the high-stakes, high-pressured life of a female heart surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato is one of the few female heart surgeons practicing in the world today. She is also a member of an even more exclusive group—those surgeons specially trained to perform heart transplants. Heart Matters is the story of the making of a surgeon who is also a wife and mother. In this powerful and moving memoir, which inspired the NBC series Heart Beat, Dr. Magliato takes us into her highly demanding, physically intense, male-dominated world and shows us how she masterfully works to save patients' lives every day, while also maintaining balance at home. Heart Matters is also a wake-up call to all women about their number one killer - heart disease - and explains how to avoid becoming a victim. Magliato offers a vivid behind-the-scenes view of what really goes on in an operating room and the real-life drama that occurs there. She shows the passion and commitment between patient and doctor, revealing that, at the end of a long day, it's our hearts that matter most.


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An inspiring, surprising, sometimes shocking, and ultimately deeply informative memoir of the high-stakes, high-pressured life of a female heart surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato is one of the few female heart surgeons practicing in the world today. She is also a member of an even more exclusive group—those surgeons specially trained to perform heart transplants. Heart Matters i An inspiring, surprising, sometimes shocking, and ultimately deeply informative memoir of the high-stakes, high-pressured life of a female heart surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato is one of the few female heart surgeons practicing in the world today. She is also a member of an even more exclusive group—those surgeons specially trained to perform heart transplants. Heart Matters is the story of the making of a surgeon who is also a wife and mother. In this powerful and moving memoir, which inspired the NBC series Heart Beat, Dr. Magliato takes us into her highly demanding, physically intense, male-dominated world and shows us how she masterfully works to save patients' lives every day, while also maintaining balance at home. Heart Matters is also a wake-up call to all women about their number one killer - heart disease - and explains how to avoid becoming a victim. Magliato offers a vivid behind-the-scenes view of what really goes on in an operating room and the real-life drama that occurs there. She shows the passion and commitment between patient and doctor, revealing that, at the end of a long day, it's our hearts that matter most.

30 review for Heart Matters: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon

  1. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I would recommend this book to anyone--- and especially women-- interested in learning about heart disease, women breaking through barriers, or stories of real people living and working. It met all three for me, and was an eye opener about women and heart disease. I fell in love with this heart surgeon and her passion for women's health. I picked it up at the library to listen to (and fortunately could listen constantly while doing a 6 hr drive), but will order a hard copy of my own. It is an am I would recommend this book to anyone--- and especially women-- interested in learning about heart disease, women breaking through barriers, or stories of real people living and working. It met all three for me, and was an eye opener about women and heart disease. I fell in love with this heart surgeon and her passion for women's health. I picked it up at the library to listen to (and fortunately could listen constantly while doing a 6 hr drive), but will order a hard copy of my own. It is an amazing read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mie

    I have been working in the same departments as described in this memoir. I do remember what a balancing act it was for these cardio-vascular surgions and nurses as well. It was huge when we saved life and we were quiet and respectful often sad with tears in our eyes when we lost one. I think some of the describtions and the language used are a little over-dramatic.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    Good information, but not a terribly interesting read. Overall was disappointed because I expected more about the actual surgical procedures, not to be reminded about how heart disease is the #1 killer of women, something we all know.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Su

    This was an excellent book about what it takes to become a female cardio thoracic surgeon along with some neat stats about heart disease in females today. The figures on how many women are afflicted with heart disease were depressing however informative. I like the way she presents the information and even makes the medical stuff easy to understand for people who are not from a medical background. However I really dislike the way she turns herself into a constant super hero. The truth is that he This was an excellent book about what it takes to become a female cardio thoracic surgeon along with some neat stats about heart disease in females today. The figures on how many women are afflicted with heart disease were depressing however informative. I like the way she presents the information and even makes the medical stuff easy to understand for people who are not from a medical background. However I really dislike the way she turns herself into a constant super hero. The truth is that her job is one of dedication and you really can't "have it all" as she claims. She claims that she is able to juggle her work and family evenly however at the end of the book she relays how she missed an important family event due to her work. I really would like to have seen her give more credit to God, different medical staff and other factors for her patient's well-being. After reading this book I have come to understand how much hard work goes into becoming a doctor or surgeon and why they get the "God complex" as this author clearly has. Even though that is not an excuse for their "God complex" I can at least understand where it is coming from.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andres

    I love reading anything medical, and "medical memoirs" from doctors are especially fun to read. This one is no exception, and right away you get a real sense of the no-nonsense, straightforward, yet fun and lively personality of the author/doctor. Dr. Magliato is the "female heart surgeon" of the subtitle and she honestly lays out the facts of her life, of her profession (I can't believe it can be so sexist!), and of the drive and hard work that is necessary to even consider such a complex and d I love reading anything medical, and "medical memoirs" from doctors are especially fun to read. This one is no exception, and right away you get a real sense of the no-nonsense, straightforward, yet fun and lively personality of the author/doctor. Dr. Magliato is the "female heart surgeon" of the subtitle and she honestly lays out the facts of her life, of her profession (I can't believe it can be so sexist!), and of the drive and hard work that is necessary to even consider such a complex and demanding job (not just from a technical, but also from a professional and personal, standpoint.) The book also doles out enough practical information to keep you aware and informed about your heart, especially for women since heart troubles show up with different symptoms than in men (and in general that women's heart troubles are much more likely to be disregarded). A solid read for anyone interested in a heart surgeon's life, a definite read for anyone who enjoys medical memoirs like this one as much as I do.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Wow, fascinating book! I loved how the book was written. I learned so much, but the material is presented in a very down-to-earth manner. It is the story of how the author came to be one of the few/rare female heart surgeons in the world. She tells of her story of success, but a success fraught with challenges, many of which related to her gender, a rarity in this field. She had much to overcome in addition to the obvious academic challenges. Her ability to endure, even embrace, the physical str Wow, fascinating book! I loved how the book was written. I learned so much, but the material is presented in a very down-to-earth manner. It is the story of how the author came to be one of the few/rare female heart surgeons in the world. She tells of her story of success, but a success fraught with challenges, many of which related to her gender, a rarity in this field. She had much to overcome in addition to the obvious academic challenges. Her ability to endure, even embrace, the physical struggles alone were amazing. The author's love for her work - and her patients is crystal clear, throughout. GREAT read!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nette

    I guess I'd want a heart surgeon who was self-confident, even arrogant, but reading a book by this heart surgeon was a chore. "I didn't just survive the transplant service in Michigan, I blossomed from it. Intense, smart, focused, I returned to Ohio ready to take on the remaining years of my surgical residency." Gloat much? Although it contains some interesting info on women's heart health, the rest is a combination of self-promotion and bad motivational speaker-ese.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Frank

    I've enjoyed Heartbeat, the TV show based on this physician, so wanted to read about the real doctor. Interesting but Dr. Magliato is just so full of herself that her ego takes up way too much space in the book. I'm sure she is brilliant and a terrific surgeon but this was mostly a "brag" book about how much she can accomplish in any given day. She is the ultimate multi-tasker. Had there been any humility in this book, I'd have enjoyed it much more.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    My word what challenging read. I got about halfway through, maybe a little more. I felt like I was reading a novel with an unreliable narrator. Where you have to filter out the bluster and cliche to get an idea of what actually happened, or what other people might have to say about what the narrator is describing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Enjoyable medical memoir I loved reading the stories from the woman surgeons point of view. Her struggles being a women in a typical men's profession and trying to be a both a career woman and a good mother are totally relatable.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jim Gleason

    Feeling overwhelmed in your life? Pressured? Then read this book and feel what overwhelming and pressured is really like through the eyes of this heart transplant surgeon, not just any surgeon, but a female who is also mother with children and sharing life with a husband who is a liver transplant surgeon. Talk about balancing busy and stressful lives! This is an exciting read, following the transformation of a young girl’s dreams into the reality of living her passion for the heart as one who da Feeling overwhelmed in your life? Pressured? Then read this book and feel what overwhelming and pressured is really like through the eyes of this heart transplant surgeon, not just any surgeon, but a female who is also mother with children and sharing life with a husband who is a liver transplant surgeon. Talk about balancing busy and stressful lives! This is an exciting read, following the transformation of a young girl’s dreams into the reality of living her passion for the heart as one who daily touches and cuts into that amazing organ to hopefully save lives. This reading is not for the “faint of heart” as she describes with powerful lifelike and detailed descriptions of not only the complex operating room surgeries, but also candidly sharing what is going on inside her own mind and heart. Sometimes that is a description of being “afraid” and sometimes the outcomes are not ideal, and when you are dealing with a patient’s dying heart, that outcome, despite everything she can do, is death. Spiced with many patient stories, the narrative is never peaceful, with racing car trying to respond to the hospital’s call for one emergency after another, not all in the middle of the night with light traffic to contend with, leaving the reader “feeling” the stress of the event as few books do. Days and nights of impossibly long working hours of residency in a highly competitive environment where there is not only lack of belief that a “woman” can handle the male dominated arena of heart surgery, but also outright animosity and strong prejudice against her succeeding, only serve to push her even harder, finally graduating into her “first paid job” at the age of 36! Some of her stories left this reviewer in tears as she too described (see page 60) her own being brought to tears, for example, when she is sent out to do her first organ recovery run only to find that the heart she is to surgically remove is from a tiny brain dead infant. That shock almost has her deciding to change this early career only to rebound when she later is offered the opportunity to see the other side of the donation and hold the baby who had received that “silver dollar” sized heart by the young mother who is about to take her recovering baby home after the lifesaving heart transplant surgery. She writes of that moment, “I took that little child in my arms and cradled him with one hand while putting my other hand on his chest to feel the heartbeat. The heartbeat was strong. It was persistent. Life is persistent, love is persistent, and yes, the heart is persistent.” Then there is the story she shares on page 208, but I’ll leave those tears to your reading. So many moving patient stories support her own personal story of becoming a truly accomplished heart surgeon. Eventually she is transformed from the safety of her “emotional steel jacket” critical to the success of survival in this career up until now, opening her own heart to being touched by a liver surgeon suitor leading to marriage and together they begin to raise a family despite very busy and stressful careers. Thereafter the stories get even more amazing as we follow complex daily lives (more often late into the night or sleep interrupted early mornings) with those emergency calls for either surgeon that make for trying moments of life saving emergency priorities while at the same time making their growing children both a priority and integral part of their lives. After all of this tension filled story, be sure to read her Epilogue where the author closes with a beautiful and heartwarming piece describing a very special interaction with a hummingbird, drawing from it special significance which she turns into advice for all of us. Spoken truly from the heart, but I will leave it to you to read that final special gift, not ruining it by giving away that part of her story here. Doctor, patient (heart or otherwise), or just someone in search of a good read, I strongly recommend this amazing book of candid insight into the amazing world of cardiac medicine and the humans who practice the art. PS: Don’t miss the appendix which lists everything you ever wanted to know about heart disease “by the numbers” which is followed almost unnoticed by another appendix filled with her good advice about How to Avoid “Going Under the Knife” in knowing your critical metrics and symptoms - keys to a life of good health. see this and more than a hundred other organ donation/transplant related books - many with my personal reviews - at http://www.trioweb.org/resources/book...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Koren

    If you like medical memoirs this one is one of the best. The author became a heart surgeon when that was rare for a woman but that is not the main focus of the book. The cases she works on are interesting but she focuses more on the human aspect than the medical aspect. You can feel how much she loves her job and cares about her patients. I love her sense of humor when she is talking about some stressful situations. I would have liked her to talk more about how insurance companies make her job m If you like medical memoirs this one is one of the best. The author became a heart surgeon when that was rare for a woman but that is not the main focus of the book. The cases she works on are interesting but she focuses more on the human aspect than the medical aspect. You can feel how much she loves her job and cares about her patients. I love her sense of humor when she is talking about some stressful situations. I would have liked her to talk more about how insurance companies make her job more difficult. Towards the end she talks about balancing work and family in a two doctor household. Half way through this book I was looking to see if this author had more books. (She doesn't). Heads up that my book had a different title. Its Was Healing Hearts: A memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon. It looks like the hard cover and the paperback has different titles.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joan Wilson

    This account by a young female cardiac transplant surgeon struck many familiar chords for me,a retired obgyn doc.with 2 grown children. She accurately describes the single-minded drive to become a physician, and a sub specialized one, at a time when most were male. The urgency of calls in surgical specialties combined with the desire to be present for family is intense but can be immensely satisfying. My daughters grew up making rounds, sitting at the Labor and Delivery desk, hanging out at my o This account by a young female cardiac transplant surgeon struck many familiar chords for me,a retired obgyn doc.with 2 grown children. She accurately describes the single-minded drive to become a physician, and a sub specialized one, at a time when most were male. The urgency of calls in surgical specialties combined with the desire to be present for family is intense but can be immensely satisfying. My daughters grew up making rounds, sitting at the Labor and Delivery desk, hanging out at my office after school. They both pursue careers in helping others. Although my hands and shoulders have given out, I still miss the participation in lifesaving care.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Beverly Hollandbeck

    I got worn-out just reading about Dr. Magliato's job and its grueling schedule. As a cardiac surgeon, she has to be on her feet for hours at a time, and she also has to be on call for emergency surgery at any time. Her husband is also a surgeon, and yet they have managed to figure out how to raise two boys and still have a marriage. Makes me tired! By the way, the fatigue she must endure is really not the theme of this book; it's how precious life is and how the heart is the center of that preci I got worn-out just reading about Dr. Magliato's job and its grueling schedule. As a cardiac surgeon, she has to be on her feet for hours at a time, and she also has to be on call for emergency surgery at any time. Her husband is also a surgeon, and yet they have managed to figure out how to raise two boys and still have a marriage. Makes me tired! By the way, the fatigue she must endure is really not the theme of this book; it's how precious life is and how the heart is the center of that preciousness.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carly Friedman

    Magliato is clearly a talented surgeon; intelligent and hard-working. Her book was an interesting inside look at her life as a resident and then practicing heart surgeon. I enjoyed learning about how she decided on cardiac surgery as a specialty, the challenges she has overcome to achieve her goals, and how she balances a very demanding career and family. However, I was disappointed by the quality of the writing. What could have been an extremely compelling and engaging memoir left me wanting mo Magliato is clearly a talented surgeon; intelligent and hard-working. Her book was an interesting inside look at her life as a resident and then practicing heart surgeon. I enjoyed learning about how she decided on cardiac surgery as a specialty, the challenges she has overcome to achieve her goals, and how she balances a very demanding career and family. However, I was disappointed by the quality of the writing. What could have been an extremely compelling and engaging memoir left me wanting more.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emilie

    It is a good book in that it's a quick read and helps to understand a surgeons perspective on many facets of life. I feel very strongly though that it mischaracterizes health insurance and reimbursement for hospital services. Hospitals knowingly and willingly engage in contracts with insurance with clear parameters on payment. The 10% paid is as much a factor of hospital billing practices and their use of the charge master to over state costs of goods and services. That particular chapter spoile It is a good book in that it's a quick read and helps to understand a surgeons perspective on many facets of life. I feel very strongly though that it mischaracterizes health insurance and reimbursement for hospital services. Hospitals knowingly and willingly engage in contracts with insurance with clear parameters on payment. The 10% paid is as much a factor of hospital billing practices and their use of the charge master to over state costs of goods and services. That particular chapter spoiled the book for me because while important to understand the physician perspective, they too need to understand the complexities of the business of healthcare. In that same section the author criticizes new technologies that cost significantly more than their predecessors. Yes price tags for new technologies are high but often they are to the benefit of the patient. In this case a less invasive surgery. Worth a read but I advise everyone to read critically and before criticizing the system - learn about it!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Doaa

    I want to give this half a star. It's so bad and full of cliches, and I'm at least 95% sure half the stuff that the author says happened to her have never happened. She says that a doctor's life isn't anything like Grey's Anatomy but then she spews more drama in a chapter than the combined 13 seasons of GA had! It took me three months to finish because I could only read one chapter a week. Every time I'd pick up this book, I'd be stunned with Dr Kathy's ego and self-importance.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gary R

    From 18 Days Old Till ? I could put this book down. Every page is a must read. Throughout the book you’re on a 24 hour time clock (bomb). I learned so much, something every chapter. All of us have a heart just one, take care of it. I wonted to give this book a five star, but couldn’t because she had to incorporate some nasty gutter talk words but you hear them in all walks of life. Great Read!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    This is a wonderful story of a woman heart surgeon. She tells of her difficulty with being a woman during her learning years. The doctors teaching her, the other students and after many years of work, the patients themselves. It is a look into the prejudice of a woman "in a man's world", however, it is also a great medical read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dannielle

    Strong book This book lets the reader in on a woman’s life - both as a tough, skilled, respected surgeon and as a woman. It learned a lot but also felt what it feels like to be a doctor. Well done

  21. 4 out of 5

    nancy bose

    Heart- warming, heart-giving I simply loved the true story of one woman in a field of men, the honesty, the humor. Would recommend to men and women either in the medical field or considering it. Like her husband too. Will try to follow her.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Meenu

    Loved this book! It was so great to read what medicine is like from a female perspective...especially from that of a working mom!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karin

    Hard-core!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    Interesting book. Fun for book group discussion/decorations/treats.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    This book is very readable, my 3 star rating is because I prefer more patient stories. Very interesting but I skimmed a lot.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ouida M. Peters

    Excellent read. This book is insightful, interesting, and very well written. Anyone who is cared for by this woman is lucky indeed.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nannette Cercone

    Informative and enjoyable! Easy to read, learned a lot about a very complex subject, but simplified and with some humor for a non medical reader.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Good book! Gets a little dicey at times. Personal stories are hard to take sometimes. This book was also informative especially for women

  29. 5 out of 5

    Teresa McFadyen

    If you have any interest in surgery or health care this is an honest read. As a nurse I enjoyed the relationship created by the writer with the readers.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nilsa Pacheco

    Recommended reading for those ladies that don't take care of themselves, know your numbers!

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