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Heart Matters: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon [Kindle Edition]

Kathy Magliato Md
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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. Healing Hearts is the story of the making of a surgeon who is also a wife and mother. 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.
In her memoir, we come to know many of those patients whose lives Dr. Magliato has touched: a baby born with a hole in her heart, a ninety-four-year-old woman with a lethal tear in her aorta, and a thirty-five-year-old movie producer who saves her own life by recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack. Along the way, Dr. Magliato sheds light on the too often unrecognized symptoms of a heart attack and cardiovascular disease—the number one killer of women in America—and the specific measures that can be taken to prevent it.
As we begin to see what it takes for Dr. Magliato to heal hearts day after day, we come to understand a more human side of the medical profession. Dr. Magliato celebrates with her patients when they overcome their disease and personally mourns when they die as a result of it. She understands deeply the pain and suffering that heart disease can wreak on patients as well as on their families. Healing Hearts is not only her story, it is also the story of everyone affected by heart disease—roughly one in three Americans.
Dr. Magliato acquaints us with the day-to-day realities of her life and work. We see her skillfully juggle a full and happy family life as the wife of a liver transplant surgeon (they have bedside tables cluttered with pagers and cell phones that ring throughout the night) and the mother of two young boys. We also see the toll that being a female pioneer can take, as well as the rewards of such demanding work. She, like many working women, is striving to have it all.
Dr. Magliato’s powerful and moving memoir demonstrates her passion and commitment to her family, her patients, and her profession and reveals that, at the end of a long day, it’s our hearts that matter most.
Kathy E. Magliato,  MD, is currently the director of women’s cardiac services at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, and an attending cardiothoracic surgeon at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California, where she is developing a women’s heart center to address the cardiac needs of female patients. She lives in Pacific Palisades with her husband and their two children.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In her amazing memoir, Magliato belies the myth of surgeons as distant, cocky, robotic—and male. Yet she also bluntly explains why, as one of the world's very few female heart surgeons, she once relied on the psychological full metal jacket. Sometimes, it was the only thing holding me together, she says of the distance she needed during an insanely grueling training in cardiac surgery. Magliato describes the bloody trenches of the operating theater; the vulnerable patients who are saved or who die; and the juggling of a demanding career with her role as wife and mother. However, it's the doctor's tender heart that makes her far more than a healing robot. Recounting one patient's dying moments, Magliati acknowledges that she was unable to help the woman live but is proud that, at the least, I gave her... a beautiful exit from this world. When it's my time to go, that's how I want to die. In the arms of my son. Look for sobering statistics on women and heart disease, and an inspiring example of living and loving life to the fullest. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

When a female resident seeks entry into that rarefied boys’ club of heart surgeons, fasten your seat belt for a bumpy ride. Only her custom self-constructed “full-metal jacket” (“No one could get close to me. . . . I had a force field around me and I liked it that way”) worn as the first woman accepted into surgical training at Akron’s General Medical Center, held Magliato together. Her impoverished early childhood of working long hours affected her profoundly as she became an undaunted physician “utterly focused as a lead surgeon of a seventeen-hour artificial heart implant case.” Impassioned about the heart, she completed her cardiothoracic training in 1998; then followed a year in heart transplantation, finally achieving a “real job” with a paycheck at 36. But for her it’s not about money but “the thrill of touching the human heart” while balancing her professional life sans “jacket” and her personal roles as wife and mother, never easily but with hectic good humor, authentic caring, and in this book, fast-paced, smooth writing that never bores. --Whitney Scott

Product Details

  • File Size: 358 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0767930274
  • Publisher: Harmony; Reprint edition (January 11, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004I43GIW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #324,919 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "One opportunity builds upon another." February 3, 2010
"Healing Hearts" is Dr. Kathy Magliato's account of her life as one of the few female cardiothoracic surgeons in the United States. She is also a loving wife and the doting mother of two young sons. At forty-five, Magliato is an attending surgeon and the director of women's cardiac services in a California hospital. She has an MBA, which has enabled her to branch out into the business side of medicine. Her husband, Nick, is a busy liver transplant surgeon, and the two are in frequent contact every day, trying to coordinate their hectic schedules to allow for family time.

Dr. Magliato touches briefly on her childhood, during which she learned to work hard and be self-sufficient; her grueling medical training under some tough mentors; the gender prejudice and humiliation that she endured from her sexist colleagues; the special satisfaction that she derives from healing people's hearts ("an incredible honor and privilege"); the difficult balancing act of juggling her career and personal life; the need to be detached in the operating room, yet tender with patients and their families; and the anguish of letting a patient go when he cannot be saved. Magliato is on call 24/7, including weekends, and even her nights are interrupted with frequent pages and phone calls. She is chronically exhausted and wistfully states, "How I wish I could be lazy. Just once."

This is a frank, occasionally grisly, and often poignant look at how heart disease affects our lives. Anyone, from an infant to a nonagenarian, can have a heart infection, a tear in the aorta, blot clots, leaky valves and a host of other problems. A good heart surgeon should be proficient, knowledgeable, meticulous, steady, and when necessary, quick.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arresting cardiac event February 16, 2010
In the past half-century, only about 180 American women have become board-certified heart surgeons. And just like the men, sometimes they lose patients. In Kathy's Magliato's "Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon," women of all ages die -- bleeding out on the table, stricken by trauma, born with cardiac deformities.
In the opening pages, she goes from cracking open a woman's chest ("like breaking a wishbone, we pulled her sternum apart") to delicately massaging a still-beating heart.
We hear about how she performs complicated surgeries; how she fends off sexist doctors; how she goes on frantic helicopter rides to harvest hearts from accident victims; and what it's like to watch a pathologist down in the morgue rip open the heart that you'd sewn up hours before.
Occasionally, Magliato gets too cutesy or sentimental. But she draws good analogies: In anatomy lab, she says, teasing out the seven branches of the facial nerve "is like trying to dissect a spider's web embedded in Play-Doh." Anyone practicing to perform bypass surgery should take "some cooked angel hair pasta (overcooked, not al dente) and sew the ends together with a thread the size of a human hair."
As for balancing careers and parenting with her liver-surgeon husband, a couple of questions tell it all: "Who's going to take Gabriel to his 6:00 p.m. Mommy/Daddy and Me class at Saint Matthew's parish?" Magliato asks. "Who's going to complete the bile duct anastomosis on that liver transplant patient?"
Magliato includes advice for working mothers, though after med school, heart transplants, an MBA, marriage, two pregnancies and the nanny in Pacific Palisades, it's a bit much to arrive at the perfectly nutritious and zero-environmental-impact school lunches that this Power Mommy packs for her two sons.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look into a surgeon's life February 17, 2010
Dr. Magliato seems to have two purposes in writing this book: to give an inside look at life as (one of the few) female surgeons, and to raise awareness about the impact of heart disease on women.

Anyone who has aspirations to be a surgeon or enter the medical field will find that part of the book interesting. She shares why she wanted to go into medicine, her path there, and specifically why she chose thoracic surgery as a specialty, and then how she went on to become a transplant surgeon.

Part of the memoir leans a bit too far into the self-indulgent for my tastes, but I also recognize that when one is writing about one's life, it's hard not to come across in this way.

The information about heart disease in women is fascinating. It's incredible how much traditional medicine and media make it out to be a man's disease. When we think heart attack, we think man. Because of this, women's symptoms are ignored and they are far more likely to die as a result of a heart attack than a man.

For this reason alone, women should read this book so that they can be their own advocate.

This information is presented in an excellent way -- fascinating, readable, and not at all heavy-handed.

3.75 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Magliato tells it like it is. March 20, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dr.Magliato writes a terrific memoir that is honest and forthright. She does not mince words on how tough it was being a female breaking into a traditionally male world. At the same time, she is so compassionate and caring for her patients and that comes through loud and clear in her writing. (I also know this from a personal point of view as my husband was one of her transplant patients) I highly recommend Dr. Magliato's book to any and all readers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars incredible
As a future female heart surgeon this book was inspiring and gave me a new role model! A truly wonderful book!
Published 9 days ago by Kate DePrimo
3.0 out of 5 stars Vulgar language, not that I haven’t used some of ...
Vulgar language, not that I haven’t used some of it in my lifetime, it wasn’t what I expected but it is very eyeopening. Read more
Published 1 month ago by FAMILY MATTERS WITH AMBER
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read......I did not want it to end!
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was part memoir...Kathy takes you on her journey of becoming
and working as a cardiothoracic surgeon in the 1990s.. Read more
Published 11 months ago by G
5.0 out of 5 stars A necessity for every woman
I'm an oncology nurse and don't typically read "medical" kinds of books but my coworkers were reading and passing around so I decided to read. Read more
Published 17 months ago by patricia baker
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay Book
Interesting from the perspective that she is either the first, or one of the first, heart surgeons in the country. It's okay, but I could take it or leave it.
Published 21 months ago by Melanie K. Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning for Women
In addition to the biographical story of Dr.Magliato, three are valuable warnings to all females regarding the warning signs of cardiac problems not included in most healthcare... Read more
Published on March 24, 2013 by Sandra J. Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story
This woman is amazing. She is an expert in her field and a compassionate and caring woman and doctor. I really enjoyed this book.
Published on January 24, 2013 by Wherezandy
4.0 out of 5 stars Reem
im perusing a career in surgery and it was very inspirational to read the story of a successful female surgeon who is also enjoying her life
Published on January 22, 2013 by Reem
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
This is a very inspiring memoir of someone who definitely took the road less traveled. I highly recommend it, especially to surgeons!
Published on September 6, 2012 by Anita
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been good
This book could have been good but it was difficult to overlook how full the author was of herself. A little modesty would go a long way. Read more
Published on November 17, 2011 by L.S.
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