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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

Exhale: Hope, Healing and a Life in Transplant

Dear Ripe Readers:

I know you are in search of new books to enjoy this summer! In order to catch up on my reviews of books by and about adults 50+, I am going to post some publisher provided descriptions for the next few books to save time, then will write my opinions at the end. Here is what the publisher said about Exhale:

"Exhale is the riveting memoir of a top transplant doctor who rode the emotional rollercoaster of saving and losing lives—until it was time to step back and reassess his own life.

A young father with a rare form of lung cancer who has been turned down for a transplant by several hospitals. A kid who was considered not “smart enough” to be worthy of a transplant. A young mother dying on the waiting list in front of her two small children. A father losing his oldest daughter after a transplant goes awry. The nights waiting for donor lungs to become available, understanding that someone needed to die so that another patient could live.

These are some of the stories in Exhale, a memoir about Dr. Weill’s ten years spent directing the lung transplant program at Stanford. Through these stories, he shows not only the miracle of transplantation, but also how it is a very human endeavor performed by people with strengths and weaknesses, powerful attributes, and profound flaws.

Exhale is an inside look at the world of high-stakes medicine, complete with the decisions that are confronted, the mistakes that are made, and the story of a transplant doctor’s slow recognition that he needed to step away from the front lines. This book is an exploration of holding on too tight, of losing one’s way, and of the power of another kind of decision—to leave behind everything for a fresh start."

I was riveted throughout this memoir. I don't have any relatives or friends who have received transplants, but I find this kind of medical science fascinating and miraculous, and was curious to hear all about it. The author is a bit of a rebel, stepping on toes, and not afraid to speak frankly in defense of patients' lives. I loved the stories of patients with Cystic Fibrosis who got a new lease on life along with their new pair of lungs, doing things they never dreamed they could. And I cried for the patients whose bodies rejected the new lungs and were facing grim future prospects.

"When the will to survive exceeds the pain that is periodically delivered, this is transplantation at its absolute best. And why I would do anything in my power to make it work when patients were on my watch. The problem is, transplantation does not always go well."

I listened to the audiobook of Exhale and thought the author's narration was exceptionally good (authors don't always make great narrators) and made the story come alive for me.

Hardcover 256 pages, Audiobook 9 hours 22 minutes

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