AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017

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Miracles We Have Seen: America's Leading Physicians Share Stories They Can't Forget

Harley A. Rotbart, MD, Health Communications, Inc. Deerfield Beach, Fla. 2016.

Here is just what we needed: A happy book written by doctors! Included are 83 stories of patients who were perceived by their physician as modern medical “miracles.” These are stories of unexplainable, unforgettable and profoundly unexpected events. We are told about spectacular serendipities, impossible cures, breathtaking resuscitations, extraordinary awakenings and recovery from unimaginable disasters. One of the authors is quoted as saying, “The longer I live, the more convinced I become that every breath, every heartbeat (and yes, every bowel movement) is itself a miracle.”

Dr. Rotbart and half of the authors are pediatricians. Although the authors are described as America’s leading physicians, many of them are from Colorado, and the only neurosurgeon is a pediatric neurosurgeon from Texas.

Who doesn’t like stories of miracles! This is a feel-good book that will rejuvenate every physician who reads it. You will be reminded of patients you have cared for that did much better than you expected. This book teaches us that what we do not know or do not understand can be a reason to have hope. In neurosurgery, we often deal with discouraging situations and are sometimes thrilled to be proven wrong and discover that not all inevitabilities areinevitable. When I think back over my half century in neurosurgery, I am reminded of the incredible advances made possible by technology, research and the accumulation of clinical experience. There has been a striking transition from miracle to everyday experience. Nevertheless, there continue to be those patients who defy science and overcome insurmountable odds to survive

Neurosurgeons will particularly like the section of this book called “Extraordinary Awakenings.” The stories are of patients in prolonged coma following severe brain injuries from infections, shock, stroke, medication errors and drowning. I personally loved the 13 essays on Impossible Cures.

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles.”

So if you are looking for a miracle, read this book. It will renew your spirit. It will give you hope. It will inspire you to keep trying for your own miracle.

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