Walk on Water: The Miracle of Saving Children's Lives
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Described by one surgeon as “soul-crushing, diamond-making stress,” surgery on congenital heart defects is arguably the most difficult of all surgical specialties. Drawing back the hospital curtain for a unique and captivating look at the extraordinary skill and dangerous politics of critical surgery in a pediatric heart center, Michael Ruhlman focuses on the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, where a team of medical specialists—led by idiosyncratic virtuoso Dr. Roger Mee—work on the edge of disaster on a daily basis. Walk on Water offers a rare and dramatic glimpse into a world where the health of innocent children and the hopes of white-knuckled families rest in the hands of all-too-human doctors.
atrium into a taut balloon as blood backs up in the lungs. These babies get sick as stink and then usually die, fairly quickly. The only hope is to push a catheter into a vein in the baby’s groin, maneuver it into the right atrium, and pop a hole in the septal wall, which has become thick and tough from the intense pressure. Dan Murphy strolled into the echo lab and took a look, then confirmed that the aorta was atretic. “But the arch is not bad,” Suzy said. “Coarct,” Dan said. “Yeah, but not
blood had become infected with a bacterium called pseudomonas, and he was going into septic shock. Appachi called for new lines to go into the baby’s tiny vessels. As forces were marshaled, he had to ask Patricia to leave the ICU immediately. The baby needed large doses of fluids, inotropes, vasoconstrictors, and antibiotics right away; they might lose him, Appachi told Patricia. She was led out to the lobby to wait. She called Brian to tell him to park the car and come up. When a baby’s blood
cardiac patients (an overall 1.5 percent ICU mortality, with cardiac mortality “consistently under two percent,” according to Michael McHugh, the head intensivist). The typical stay is between one and two days, or three to four days for cardiac patients. About 20 percent of the five hundred noncardiac patients are neurology cases who have had operations for tumors or seizures. This PICU is considered medium-size, with six beds being considered small and more than fifteen big. Steve Davis says
lead you to where you need to go.” And Drew quieted for the first time all day; he stopped writhing, and his helpless cries ceased. His vivid blue eyes looked straight into hers. “Mommy loves you,” Angie said, “and you just need to be strong and fight.” His eyes still locked on hers, Drew slowly lifted his arm and touched her face. His grandmother, amazed by this little exchange, gasped, “Angie, he’s listening to you.” Angie, for her part, believed that her son was telling her he would do his
and hunker down in front of the television, or with their cards, and redouble their prayers. They stare out the window at the snow that’s really coming down now, at the beams of headlights moving through the blizzard below them. When the heart is beating steadily, an anastomosis of the mammary artery is in itself neither a risky nor a complicated procedure; it merely requires painstaking care in the exact artery-to-artery stitching of two vessels that are each less than a millimeter in