Henry Marsh has been one of the UK’s foremost neurosurgeons for thirty years. He has been subject to two major documentary films, Your Life In Their Hands and The English Surgeon, which won an Emmy. He was made a CBE in 2010.
Information on Book
What is it like to be a brain surgeon?
How does it feel to hold someone’s life in your hands, to cut through the stuff that creates thought, feeling and reason?
How do you live with the consequences when it all goes wrong?
Do No Harm offers an unforgettable insight into the highs and lows of a life dedicated to operating on the human brain, in all its exquisite complexity. With astonishing candour and compassion, Henry Marsh reveals the exhilarating drama of surgery, the chaos and confusion of a busy modern hospital, and above all the need for hope when faced with life’s most agonising decisions.
Extract from Book
‘Every surgeon comes within himself a small cemetery, where from time to time he goes to pray a place of bitterness and regret, where he must look for an explanation for his failures.’
‘If we are ill and in hospital, fearing for our life, awaiting terrifying surgery, we have to trust the doctors treating us- at least, life is very difficult if we don’t. It is not surprising that we invest doctors with superhuman qualities as a way of overcoming our fears. If the operation succeeds the surgeon is a hero, but if it fails he is a villain.
A brain surgeon’s life is never boring and can be profoundly rewarding but it comes at a price. You will inevitably make mistakes and you must learn to live with the occasional awful consequences. You must learn to be objective about what you see, and yet not lose your humanity in the process.’
‘It was busy work with more responsibility than my first job as a house surgeon, and with much less supervision. I learnt a lot of practical medicine very quickly but they were not always enjoyable lessons. I was at the bottom of a little hierarchy in the ‘firm’. My job was to see all the patients – most of whom were admitted as emergencies through the casualty department – when they arrived and to look after the ones already on the wards. I learnt very quickly that I did not ring up my seniors about a patient without having first seen the patient myself. I had done this on my first night on call, asking my registrar’s advice in advance of going to see a patient the nurse had called me about, and received a torrent of abuse in reply. So, anxious and inexperienced I would see all the patients, try to decide what to do and only dare to ring my seniors up if I was really very uncertain indeed.’
I am fiercely protective of the NHS having worked for them for many, many years. Henry Marsh is one of the many doctors who keeps the NHS going and you can feel his passion and frustration about the NHS and first and foremost his passion with looking after each and every one of his patients. The brutal honesty, I deeply respected throughout this book.
You would think when initially picking up this book that it would be gruesome and you would be put off having any surgery, but instead it made me feel safe and proud that we have a free health system with health professionals working hard to maintain it despite what is going on politically and with management within the hospital.
You can hear Henry’s voice throughout his book and his truth about his own mistakes as well as his junior, didn’t make me cross or angry but instead just made me respect him even more. I only wish more healthcare professionals were as honest.
Henry has broken down each chapter with a different diagnosis and explains it in layman’s terms of what this means and discusses a patient he has had who has experienced this and the outcome. You are on the roller coaster ride with Henry the positives the negatives his happiness and sadness – but again, it is not a sad read it is inspirational and a book that you should all read. It will potentially make people feel very differently about the NHS.
Copy of Book available here.