Primum non Nocere (“First, Do No Harm”) – The Hippocratic Oath
Perhaps due to the influence of many medical dramas, neurosurgeons have cultivated a popular image of being cocky, heartless and revel in playing God. How can they not, when every day they hold in their hands the very lives of their patients and they will get to wrestle the patients away from the very spectre of death? It should be enough to make a person feel invincible.
Even if there is truth to the stereotype, Dr. Henry Marsh’s memoir Do No Harm tells the other side of the story: about a well-renown neurosurgeon nearing the end of his successful career and the humbling experiences he went through to get there. Dr. Henry Marsh is a leading British neurosurgeon, and a pioneer of neurosurgical advances in Ukraine. His prose reflect the personality of the author: earnest, kind and humble, and filled with valuable insight of life and ruminations of death.
Although he is one of the neurosurgeons there is, Dr. Marsh does not hesitate to list out his failings; his botched surgeries, the fragility of his patients’ life and far from feeling like he gets to play God, the good doctor sometimes feel luck made a world of difference in his profession. Alongside these insights and self-doubt are his commentary on the bureaucracy of the NHS and how they prevent, rather than help him do his job well.
Henry Marsh has already retired from his profession, and has already written a second book in May 2017, and his first book is a valuable insight into life, death, and the makings of an exceptional surgeon.
– Review by Huda
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