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Small

Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery

Catherine Musemeche, MD

As a pediatric surgeon, Catherine Musemeche operates on the smallest of human beings, manipulates organs the size of walnuts, and uses sutures as thin as hairs to resolve matters of life or death. Working in the small space of a premature infant’s chest or abdomen allows no margin for error. It is a world rife with emotion and risk. Small takes readers inside this rarefied world of pediatric medicine, where children and newborns undergo surgery to resolve congenital defects or correct the damages caused by accidents and disease. It is an incredibly high-stakes endeavor, nerve-wracking and fascinating.

Small: Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery is a gripping story about a still little-known frontier. In writing about patients and their families, Musemeche recounts the history of the developing field of pediatric surgery—so like adult medicine in many ways, but at the same time utterly different. This is a field guide to the state of the art and science of operating on the smallest human beings, the hurts and maladies that afflict them, and the changing nature of medicine in America today, told by an exceptionally gifted surgeon and writer.

Cover Image of Small: Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery
Cloth: $26 | E-book: $24.99
ISBN-13: 9781611684421
Pages: 244 | Size: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
Date Published: August 22, 2014
Screenshot-2023-10-11-at-16.51.58

Reviews

  • Operating on infants is not as simple as learning how to sew in miniature, explains Musemeche in this fascinating, often hair-raising account of the state of pediatric surgery. Musemeche has been working in the field for three decades and writes with the kind of drama that feels as visceral as viewing a documentary.

    Julia McKinnell
    Maclean’s
  • A soul-searching, life-changing roller coaster ride of a book that celebrates the miracle of life while acknowledging the heart ache of loss.

    Student Doctor Network
  • Dr. Musemeche has woven together history, personal narrative, and surgical anatomy with the deftness of a master of craft.

    Katrina Firlik, MD
    author of Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside
  • With dramatic descriptions of delicate surgeries on tiny patients, brilliant history lessons, and the obvious passion of the author for her work, Small is a huge achievement.

    Daniel Menaker
    author of The Treatment, a novel, and My Mistake: A Memoir
  • Pediatric surgeons have long been unappreciated, but Small reveals in vivid, intimate detail the intensity and the excruciating focus that is required to do their painstaking work.

    Lee Gutkind
    author of One Children’s Place: Inside a Children’s Hospital
  • Small is huge. I read every word and found it to be wonderfully written by a surgeon who knows how to bring drama and sensitivity to the difficult situations all surgeons encounter every day.

    John G. Raffensperger
    Emeritus Prof of Surgery, Northwestern Univ, Feinberg School of Medicine and author of Children's Surgery, A Worldwide History

About the Author

CATHERINE MUSEMECHE, MD is a board-certified pediatric surgeon, and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Her essay “Wake-Up Call” was included in the anthology At the End of Life, and excerpted on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation.” She lives in Austin, Texas.

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