- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1005 KB
- Print Length: 289 pages
- Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (13 March 2014)
- Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00FYUM52C
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 2,483 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,192 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery Kindle Edition
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About the Author
Henry Marsh read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University before studying medicine at the Royal Free Hospital in London. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1984 and was appointed Consultant Neurosurgeon at Atkinson Morley's/St George's Hospital in London in 1987, where he still works full time. He has been the subject of two major documentary films, YOUR LIFE IN THEIR HANDS, which won the ROYAL TELEVISION SOCIETY GOLD MEDAL, and THE ENGLISH SURGEON, featuring his work in the Ukraine, which won an EMMY. He was made a CBE in 2010. He is married to the anthropologist and writer Kate Fox.
An enthralling read . . . a testimony of wonder . . . Marsh's style is admirably clear, concise and precise . . There is no forcing of a narrative arc or a happy ending, just the quotidian frustrations, sorrows, regrets
and successes of neurosurgical life
An elegant series of meditations at the closing of a long career. Many of the stories are moving enough to raise
tears, but at the heart this is a book about wisdom and experience
[Do No Harm] simply tells the stories, with great tenderness, insight and self-doubt . . . Why haven't more surgeons written books, especially of this prosaic beauty? Well, thank God for Henry Marsh . . . What a bloody, splendid book: commas optional (Euan Ferguson OBSERVER)
Incredibly absorbing . . . an astonishingly candid insight (Bill Bryson)
Riveting . . . extraordinarily intimate, compassionate and sometimes frightening . . . [Marsh] writes with uncommon power and frankness (NEW YORK TIMES)
Offers an astonishing glimpse into this stressful career. This is a wonderful book, passionate and frank. If Marsh is even a tenth as good a neurosurgeon as he is a writer, I'd let him open my skull any time (Leyla Sanai INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)
Henry Marsh . . . sets a new standard for telling it like it is . . . His love for brain surgery and his patients shines through, but the specialty - shrouded in secrecy and mystique when he entered it - has now firmly had the rug pulled out from under it. We should thank Henry Marsh for that (Phil Hammond THE TIMES)
When a book opens like this: "I often have to cut into the brain and it is something I hate doing" - you can't let it go, you have to read on, don't you? . . . I trust completely the skills of those who practise [brain surgery], and tend to forget the human element, which is failures, misunderstandings, mistakes, luck and bad luck . . . Do No Harm by Henry Marsh reveals all of this, in the midst of life-threatening situations, and that's one reason to read it; true honesty in an unexpected place (Karl Ove Knausgard FINANCIAL TIMES)
As gripping and engrossing as the best medical drama, only with the added piquancy of being entirely true, this compelling account of what it's really like to be a brain surgeon will have you on the edge of your sunlounger (Sandra Parsons DAILY MAIL) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Dr Marsh is certainly honest when it comes to his career, the highs and the lows of it. How one mistake or an error in judgement, can change a persons life forever. I love that he mentions that young surgeons are sometimes too impatient and are not thinking about the whole picture when it comes to surgeries and he admits that he was one of those impatient surgeons once himself. With age comes wisdom and that is a good thing.
Fascinating reading, it really was.
Top international reviews
This is a fascinating look into neurosurgery and life as a neurosurgeon, written by such a surgeon at the end of his career. As often seems to be the case with life's strange coincidences Marsh's son suffered from a brain tumour as a little boy, his wife developed epilepsy late in life, and he himself has had a few surgeries (although nothing related to the brain specifically) so his stories are not only from the surgeon's viewpoint, but also from that of the patient and the frightened family member.
We all on some level know that doctors are only human and all surgery comes with some level of risk, but it was refreshing to really hear that from the surgeon's experience. One of the biggest surprises for me was the observation that most surgeons can cope relatively well with patients who are beyond saving, the certainty that surgery won't help and the patient will definitely die being easy to come to terms with. It's the cases where you can't be sure whether operating will help or not that are the most difficult. It makes sense when you think about it, uncertainty is always the hardest thing to cope with, but I'd never thought about it that way before.
Also fascinating was learning all about different types of brain tumours and other afflictions. Having never known anyone closely with a brain tumour, it was an education to learn how many types there are and how they differ in terms of symptoms, surgery and other treatments.
Overall the memoir felt honest and it was definitely quite humble which is not the stereotypical depiction of a surgeon who we are often led to believe have something of a God-complex! As a surgeon who worked in the NHS and some private practice for several decades it was interesting to see how things had changed, both in surgery and in the wider world of secondary care. Unfortunately it did lead to quite a few chapters including a lamentation on lack of beds, but that's a sad truth of the NHS these days and so probably hard to avoid.
Definitely a great read for pretty much anyone, unless you are squeamish at detailed descriptions of surgery!
Henry Marsh gives us the view of people who realise that their power is God like, but show human failings in knowing that a person’s life or well-being depend on your accuracy to the millimetre.
He describes his emotions and feelings on finding his baby son was seriously ill as a means of understanding how it feels to have a job with such responsibility and risk.
The problems of the NHS appear insignificant compared with his experience of working in a Ukrainian hospital. Where patients’ and families’ fears are the same, but their prospects are dependent on ageing equipment and methods.
Most of the chapters are named after various benign and malignant tumours of the brain. This reminds us of the many things that can go wrong and equally what amazingly complex and delicate organs our brain are.
The reader is left in no doubt that if they needed brain surgery, they would be safe with Henry Marsh.
This is a very honest and open book which has many short chapters, each focusing on individual case studies - different tumours and different patients all with their own complications or considerations. Whist there are some upsetting chapters they each give a different perspective on what needs to be taken into consideration prior to each and every surgery. Do No Harm gives an interesting glimpse into what it’s like to be a neurosurgeon and the things they go through inside and outside of the surgical theatre.
I was fascinated by the stories of time spent working in the Ukraine as well as around the UK within the NHS. In all this is an enlightening insight into the world of neurosurgery from Dr Henry Marsh. He is a man who whilst obviously extremely talented and a true life saver also comes across as absolutely human, tormented when things go wrong and truly grateful when things go right.
I also winced on occasion when he described some of his dialogue with junior colleagues but recognise that he is probably from the "old school" when it would not have been described as bullying.
Marsh certainly lays bare some of the maladies of the NHS in terms of management and bureaucracy which hamper patient care nowadays and I applaud him for that.
I also very much appreciated his description of his Mother's death which I could very much identify with having achieved the same for my own Grandmother.
Certainly worth reading.
I originally purchased this book for a dear 80 year old friend who's wife was terminally ill with Brain Cancer. So he could get a better grip of his dying wife's predicament, but he declined it. However, I read it and I am now that much wiser.
Henry Marsh is a remarkable character and his tales of life as a Brain Surgeon illistrate that the World would be a poorer place without his presence. The writing style is as though you are shaddowing him throught his hospital tasks, his life's own traumas and untimately his own concience and humane view of his patient's Frailties.
We also meet real people: patients and families faced with critical decisions and trauma, colleagues and team members. Henry Marsh also shows us the frustrations of a stretched NHS with operations cancelled and a lack of beds, and increasingly his utter fury at the pointlessness of some management decisions and directives.
It takes a very special person not only to do this work but also to be robust enough physically and mentally to do it. I cannot recommend this book too highly.
Henry examines the failings of the NHS but also learns to be thankful after a tour of Romania and its healthcare system. But most of all it is an enthralling, poignant look at dealing with death and devastation on a daily basis. At the two competing antitheses of what is commonplace for the surgeon and unique for the patient. There is one section after a particularly bad week where he describes the beauty of a dirty London in the rain as a relief from all the pain he has had to inflict on his patients by either leaving them as disabled quadriplegics or with a certain death sentence. It also has a fair amount of dark humour where he examples the lack of feedback in the NHS from the patients themselves by saying no-one ever comes back to me and tells me 'the way you told me I was terminally ill was very well executed'.
It is a truly fascinating, candid and raw read. You'll mot be disappointed.