The emotional cost of complications
- By: Luke Austen
Many public figures and celebrities write autobiographies billed as confessions, but the memoirs of the neurosurgeon Henry Marsh are strikingly candid and unreserved. Throughout Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery Marsh reflects on harrowing moments in his career, always with clarity and honesty, cross examining his past actions in a manner suggestive of someone who remains deeply troubled by these events. And no wonder. The results of neurosurgery gone wrong are shown to be truly horrifying and desperately sad. The image of a mother “pushing her mute and disfigured daughter in her wheelchair” or of a young woman waking “paralysed down the right side of her body” are not easily forgotten by the reader, let alone by the neurosurgeon himself.
The concept of doctors “playing God” is normally just a theoretical abstraction, often used in medical ethics debates, but this was Marsh’s reality. We see how