Follow Your Star

From Mining to Heart Transplants - A Surgeon's Story

by Terence English



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 2/11/2011

Format : Hardcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 252
ISBN : 9781456771300
Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 252
ISBN : 9781456771317

About the Book

The central part of this story is a fascinating account of the trials and tribulations associated with the author’s determination to establish a heart transplant programme in Britain. He eventually performed Britain’s first successful heart transplant at Papworth Hospital near Cambridge in 1979. At the time there were only four other centres in the world performing heart transplants. However, within a decade over 4,000 patients a year were being transplanted worldwide, and Papworth had become one of the best known hospitals for heart and lung transplantation.

The author’s involvement in this work led to professional recognition and the presidency of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Amongst other responsibilities, he became engaged in trying to modify some of the more controversial reforms of the National Health Service being introduced at that time by the Thatcher government. Other honours followed, including a knighthood and seven years as Master of St Catharine’s College in Cambridge, which added a new dimension of interest to his life.

The story also covers his early years in South Africa, including his work as a diamond-driller in Rhodesia and then qualification as a mining engineer before deciding to become a doctor. Prior to starting at Guy’s Hospital in London, he engaged in mining exploration in Northern Quebec and the Yukon and during the next three years returned to Canada each summer for similar work. His training in cardiac surgery coincided with exciting developments in this new specialty, during which his background in engineering proved helpful.

A theme present throughout Terence English’s autobiography is that of “Follow Your Star”. For him this meant being prepared to change direction if a brighter star seemed to appear on the horizon. This led to several false starts along the way, but most provided valuable and enriching experiences, even if they did not contribute to his eventual career.

About the Author

Sir Terence English KBE was responsible for establishing the internationally renowned heart transplant programme at Papworth Hospital near Cambridge, where he performed Britain’s first successful heart transplant in 1979.

He was born in South Africa in1932 and educated at Hilton College in Natal. He then obtained a BSc in Mining Engineering at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. However, shortly before completing his degree he decided he would rather be a doctor, and a small inheritance enabled him to study medicine at Guy’s Hospital in London.

In 1973 Sir Terence was appointed Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon to Papworth and Addenbrooke’s Hospitals in Cambridge. Having become aware of the good results being achieved with heart transplantation at Stanford University in California, he decided that this procedure should be made available for British patients. Th is led in due course to Papworth becoming a national centre for transplantation of the heart and lungs.

In 1989 he became President of Th e Royal College of Surgeons and was later described in the BMJ publication (1997) “With Head and Heart and Hands” as, “perhaps the best president of the medical royal colleges since the war”. He was elected Master of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge in 1993; Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire in 1995 and in the same year became President of the British Medical Association.

Following retirement in 2000 he has remained active and involved with a number of charities. He is currently Patron of the Primary Trauma Care Foundation and is passionate about delivering courses in trauma care to developing countries such as Pakistan and Gaza. He also enjoys participating in long 4X4 “adventure drives” to remote parts of the world.