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Few of the great stories of medicine are as palpably dramatic as the invention of open-heart surgery, yet, until now, no journalist has ever brought all of the thrilling specifics of this triumph to life.
This is the story of the surgeon many call the father of open-heart surgery, Dr. C. Walton Lillehei, who, along with colleagues at University Hospital in Minneapolis and a small band of pioneers elsewhere, accomplished what many experts considered to be an impossible feat: He opened the heart, repaired fatal defects, and made the miraculous routine.
Acclaimed author G. Wayne Miller draws on archival research and exclusive interviews with Lillehei and legendary pioneers such as Michael DeBakey and Christiaan Barnard, taking readers into the lives of these doctors and their patients as they progress toward their landmark achievement. In the tradition of works by Richard Rhodes and Tracy Kidder, King of Hearts tells the story of an important and gripping piece of forgotten science history.
"Dr. Walt Lillehei was one of the unsung heroes of surgery in the 20th century. King of Hearts is a fascinating and suspenseful inside portrait of how this pioneer blazed a trail for all heart surgeons. It is a story of historical importance, and Wayne Miller tells it with precision and great spirit."
-- Dr. Christiaan Barnard, heart transplant pioneer