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Edited by G E H Newton. Yeovil, UK: Heart Transplant Families Together, 2002. Paperback, £5.99, pp 160
The diagnosis of a cardiac problem which cannot be treated by conventional means must come as a devastating blow to the parents, family, and friends. Cardiac transplantation offers the prospect of survival in the medium term but there are significant problems. It must be difficult to take on board all the information with regard to the illness and potential treatments, particularly if the illness has been relatively acute. This book is a series of contributions from the patients and families on how they coped or had difficulty coping with this situation.
The book provides essays covering a wide spectrum from those where the outcome was seen as very good, full of hope and optimism to cases where the outcome was poor. The observations of the patients themselves, parents, grandparents, and cousins are all included and make very interesting reading.
There is little doubt that many families placed in this most traumatic situation would find this book useful. They will find details of patients with pictures and hand drawings made by patients highlighting the fact that these are all very real cases having come through major ordeals. The balance of cases which do not go well and have significant and severe complications is preserved with some extremely illuminating contributions from families where transplantation was not a successful strategy. There are also useful insights given by the patients themselves on what might be considered more minor complications such as frequent venepuncture and potential cosmetic problems associated with immunosuppression.
The book was written and presented in a way that makes it easy to read and will be welcomed by many parents placed in this situation. Medical, nursing, and all the other staff dealing with the issue of transplantation would also find many of the observations made by the patients and families interesting and possibly change some of the ways information is relayed and issues explained.
I would happily recommend this book to the families of potential cardiopulmonary transplant recipients and to the professionals dealing with these patients and families on a regular basis.