6.12.1913  -  12.12.2002

Books of N.M.Amosov

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Diary. December, 31, Wednesday, Evening

I had not had any deaths among my patients for more than one month, although I performed 19 difficult operations and thought that I would end the year with a good record. Alas. During the past week I performed six operations, and three of the patients died, two of them grave cases with artificial valves. They were being operated on for the second time. I was particularly depressed by the death of a young boy with a Fallot's tetrad defect: the urine stopped flowing out of the organism on the second day, and we could do nothing to save him. He was a bright boy of seven who was already talking about nuclear energy.

What could I do after that hard week? I did what I had to and announced that on Monday, we would have four operations with the AIK machine. Monday was last operating day of the year. Two days have passed: everything is all right.

I needed those operations: I had to master myself, to overcome my cowardness and weakness, to nip them in the bud.

The year is over. I have already checked the balance: before August and afterwards. The outcome is as follows: the total death rate in the AIK machine-based operations has been reduced by almost one-third and by more than fifty per cent for operations with artificial valves. We performed 2,150 heart operations during the year; 611 of them were performed with the AIK machine. Perhaps these are the highest figures in the entire Soviet Union.

However, I don't feel like a hero. It's true that the figures are quite impressive when we put in only one valve. If repeat operations are excluded from the statistics, the final figure is eight per cent (i.e., the death rate). In the case of two valves, the situation is much worse, and there has been no breakthrough so far for congenital heart disease. Patients with Fallot's tetrad have the same death rate as eighteen years ago — every fifth one. It's the same picture in other hospitals around the country. Therefore, it's too early to bring my story to a close: a happy ending is far away.