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Small: Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery

Small: Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery

by Catherine Musemeche


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As a pediatric surgeon, Catherine Musemeche operates on the smallest of human beings, manipulates organs the size of walnuts, and uses sutures as thin as hairs to resolve matters of life or death. Working in the small space of a premature infant’s chest or abdomen allows no margin for error. It is a world rife with emotion and risk. Small takes readers inside this rarefied world of pediatric medicine, where children and newborns undergo surgery to resolve congenital defects or correct the damages caused by accidents and disease. It is an incredibly high-stakes endeavor, nerve-wracking and fascinating. Small: Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery is a gripping story about a still little-known frontier. In writing about patients and their families, Musemeche recounts the history of the developing field of pediatric surgery—so like adult medicine in many ways, but at the same time utterly different. This is a field guide to the state of the art and science of operating on the smallest human beings, the hurts and maladies that afflict them, and the changing nature of medicine in America today, told by an exceptionally gifted surgeon and writer.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611684421
Publisher: Dartmouth College Press
Publication date: 09/02/2014
Pages: 244
Sales rank: 1,138,968
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

CATHERINE MUSEMECHE, MD is a board-certified pediatric surgeon, and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Her essay “Wake-Up Call” was included in the anthology At the End of Life, and excerpted on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.” She lives in Austin, Texas.

Table of Contents

Introduction • The Thread of Life • Bunny Rabbits, Boston, and Babies • The Shortcut to Survival • Inside Out • Going to Extremes • Battlegrounds to Playgrounds • The Weight of the Future • Something to Celebrate • Tiny Tools for Tiny Bodies • Lessons • Small • The Lost and Found • Acknowledgments • Notes • Index

What People are Saying About This

Daniel Menaker

“Between the delicate surgeries on tiny patients, brilliant history lessons, and the obvious passion of the author for her work, Small is a huge achievement.”

John G. Raffensperger

“Small is huge. I read every word and found it to be wonderfully written by a surgeon who knows how to bring drama and sensitivity to the difficult situations all surgeons encounter every day.”

Katrina Firlik

“Dr. Musemeche has woven together history, personal narrative, and surgical anatomy with the deftness of a master of craft.”

Lee Gutkind

“Pediatric surgeons have long been unappreciated, but Small reveals in vivid, intimate detail the intensity and the excruciating focus that is required to do their painstaking work.”

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