Author Mark Oristano Talks About his New Book and the Importance of Pediatric Heart Surgeries

Mark Oristano

What is it like to hold the beating heart of a two-day old child in your hand?  What is it like to counsel distraught parents as they make some of the most difficult decisions of their lives?

Noted pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Kristine Guleserian has opened up her OR, and her career, to author Mark Oristano to create Surgeon's Story - Inside OR-1 with one of America's Top Pediatric Heart Surgeons. 

Dr. Guleserian's life, training and work are discussed in detail, framed around the incredibly dramatic story of a heart transplant for a two-year old girl whose own heart was rapidly dying.  Author Mark Oristano takes readers inside the operating room to get a first-hand look at pediatric heart surgeries most doctors in America would never attempt.

That's because Dr. Guleserian is recognized as one of the top pediatric heart surgeons in America, one of a very few who have performed a transplant on a one-week old baby. Dr. Guleserian (Goo-liss-AIR-ee-yan) provided her expertise, and opened her life and her OR to Oristano to produce Surgeon's Story.

As preparation to write this stirring book, Oristano spent hours inside the operating room at Children's Medical Center in Dallas watching Dr. Guleserian perform surgeries that each day were life or death experiences. Readers will be with Dr. Guleserian on her rounds, meeting with parents, and in the Operating Room for heart transplants and more.

Oristano is successful sportscaster, photographer, and actor. His first book, A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football, grew out of his work broadcasting NFL games for the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers. He has been a volunteer at Children's Medical Center in Dallas since 1997.

Readers will find all the drama, intensity, humor and compassion that they enjoy in their favorite fictionalized medical TV drama, but the actual accounts in Surgeon's Story are even more compelling. One of the key characters in the book is 2-year-old Rylynn who was born with an often fatal disorder called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and who underwent a successful transplant performed by Dr. Guleserian.

Surgeon's Story - Inside OR-1 with One of America's Top Pediatric Heart Surgeons by Mark Oristano (ISBN 978-1-935953-77-7 March 2017, 188 pages, $19.95) is available on Amazon and on the author's blog View the book trailer here:

Q:  Mark thank you for doing this interview with us.  After writing a book on football, why did you decide to write a book on open heart surgery?

I've been a volunteer at Children's Medical Center in Dallas for 20 years and I got to know Kristine Guleserian, one of the pediatric heart surgeons. The more I discovered about her amazing skills as well as the sort of person she was, I thought it would be a natural subject for a book.

Q:  Why is this issue of pediatric heart an important issue for you?

The overall issue of pediatric health is important to me. Children of any and every economic level deserve the best care they can get. I am very proud to be associated with an organization like Children's Medical Care, where the stated policy is simply to make life better for children.

Q:  You told this story through the lens of Dr. Kristine Guleserian.  Who is she?

Dr. Guleserian is one of only 9 women in the U.S. board certified as a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, permitted to operate on the walnut-sized hearts of newborns and others. Her skills and her dedication to her patients are second to none. And in this book, her story stretches from OR-1 at Children's Medical Center to the pitcher's mound at Fenway Park for a World Series game.

Q: How did you get to know her?  And why did you decide to write about her and her expertise in this area?

As mentioned, I got to know her from my volunteer work. I kept discovering more and more amazing things about not just her work as a surgeon, but the way she took care of her patients even after they left the hospital.

Q:  A major character in your story is Rylynn, age 2, who suffered an often fatal disorder called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. What is this disease all about?

HLHS is a congenital condition where the left ventricle, the one which pumps blood around the body, has not developed properly in the womb, and therefore blood cannot be circulated properly after birth. It often requires a series of three corrective surgeries to fix, however Rylynn's case was so severe that she only had the first two operations and finally needed a heart transplant. She is 9 now and doing fine.

Q: Who is your target audience for this book?  Do you need a medical background to understand this book? 

Two audiences: anybody who ever saw Gray's Anatomy or ER or any other medical show and would like to know what's really going on in the operating room. And also, young people, mostly girls, who are thinking of careers in science, so they can understand what it's like.

Q:  What's the take away message of this book?  What message(s) do you want your readers to take away after reading this book?

That as much as we hear what's wrong about the health care system, it is inspiring to know that there are people like Dr. Guleserian there to make sure that the difficult jobs get done properly. If your child needs heart surgery, you want Dr. G to do it.



Tags : mark oristano mark oristano interview Surgeon's Story - Inside OR-1 with one of America's Top Pediatric Heart Surgeons. mark oristano new book mark oristano news A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football

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