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Heart Matters: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon by [Magliato Md, Kathy]
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4.4 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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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.)
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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: 3505 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; Reprint edition (January 11, 2011)
  • Publication Date: January 11, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004I43GIW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,135 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"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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Format: Hardcover
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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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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Format: Hardcover
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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