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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Henry Marsh - Do No Harm

reviewed written by Sue Major & read live on bookshow august 2015

Do No Harm offers an unforgettable insight into the highs and lows of a life dedicated to operating on the brain. With astonishing candour and compassion , Henry Marsh reveals the drama of surgery , the chaos of a busy modern hospital and the need for hope when faced with life's difficult decisions.

Henry Marsh is a senior neurosurgeon at St.George's Hospital in London and this memoir offers glimpses into his stressful career. Each chapter begins with a real-life case study, and he carefully explains the background, diagnosis and procedures carried out in order to treat each condition. Though this is fascinating, the magic of the book lies in the insight one has into the character of Henry Marsh. He is a humble man, who is super-skilled at manipulating the tools of micro-surgery, but he likens each day to a battle....and though he does his best to be the winner, he accepts that he is fallible. He is disarmingly honest regarding his own failings when faced with the complexities of brain surgery, and he shows the importance of dispassionate observation combined with compassion. Overall, his belief is that surgeons should always do the right thing for the patient, even if that means doing very little surgery.

I found this memoir to be compelling reading. It isn't easy reading at all, but I'm so glad I persevered beyond the surgical detail to find Henry Marsh, the man.

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