An intimate and compelling exploration into the unique psyche of the heart surgeon, by one of the profession's most eminent figures and author of Fragile Lives.
Although Professor Stephen Westaby was born with the necessary coordination and manual dexterity, it was a head trauma sustained during university that gifted him the qualities of an exceptional heart surgeon: qualities that are frequently associated with psychopathy. His 35-year career has been characterised by fearlessness and ruthless ambition, leaving empathy at the hospital door as thousands of patients put their lives in his hands. In The Knife's Edge, Westaby reflects on the unique mind-set of those who are drawn to this exhilarating and often tragic profession. We discover the pioneers who took chances to drive innovation and save lives. But as we glimpse into the future of cardiac surgery one question remains: within the confines of socialised medical healthcare systems, how can heart surgeons – individuals often hardwired with avoidance of self-doubt, a penchant for glory and a flagrant disregard for authority – truly flourish?