Spare Parts: The Story of Medicine Through the History of Transplant Surgery
by Paul Craddock
I have read many medical history books, but this was the first one where the emphasis was more on the history than the medicine and I found it refreshing.
“Spare Parts” is a journey through the history of transplants from the earliest nose transplants to the latest full-face transplants. As I mentioned, the focus was on the history surrounding the transplants, giving the reader (especially myself as I don’t consider myself a historian of any kind) a full understanding of how the medicine (in this case, transplants) came about and how they fit into society.
Whereas most of the book is written with the history as the focus, the last chapter of the book didn’t quite have the same historical texture as the previous chapters, perhaps because the history of other transplants (bone marrow, face, etc.) were too “new” and the history still being written.
As someone who has read many medical history texts, I was surprised that the author, when discussing Dr Hermann Boerhaave didn’t mention his eponymous description of Boerhaave’s syndrome — the spontaneous esophageal rupture of the esophagus. I admit that I read the first half of the book while my husband was undergoing cancer surgery so it’s possible, I may have missed it.
Despite this, the book is an excellent read and I very much appreciated how author Craddock was able to present such a detailed historical background to the medical investigations and implementations. I would caution readers that some of the experiments are a bit on the gory side and even I was taken aback at some of the details.
I would recommend this book to both history enthusiasts as well as medical history fans as it is totally worth the read.
[Thank you to NetGalley and the author for the advanced ebook copy in exchange for my honest and objective opinion which I have given here.]