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Book Review
May 2002

Surgery of the Soul

Author Affiliations

Not Available


by Joseph E. Murray, MD, 255 pp, $35, ISBN 0-88135-255-1, Canton, Mass, Science History Publications, 2001.


Copyright 2002 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2002

Arch Surg. 2002;137(5):622-623. doi:

Surgery of the Soul, by Joseph E. Murray, MD, is the personal recount of a man who began his professional career as a general surgeon with training in plastic surgery and, through caring for a severely burned pilot in World War II, became intrigued with the clinical skills required for reconstruction and the causes of skin allograft rejection. These clinical observations and scientific questions stimulated Murray to pursue a 20-year investigation into organ transplantation, culminating in the first successful kidney transplant, in 1954, between identical twins. During the next 15 years, he received much professional and scientific credit for performing successful transplantation between identical and fraternal twins as well as recipients of related and cadaveric donors. In the early 1970s, Dr Murray returned to his original fascination with and love of plastic surgery, tackling some of the most complex craniofacial deformities and excelling in this surgical field as he had in renal transplantation. Murray reviews his clinical experiences by describing specific patients whose deformities challenged him to develop new concepts and apply them to facial reconstruction. The surgical opportunities available to Murray were not unique to him alone, yet he chose to take advantage of these circumstances to gain new knowledge that later played a central role in his professional life.

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