While on call for the trauma service, third-year medical student Michael Higgins finds himself in an extraordinary situation. He is summoned to the ER to participate in the evaluation and management of a critically-injured patient and soon discovers that the unconscious man lying before him is the same man who, two months earlier, committed a heinous act of violence that shattered Michael’s personal life. Following a lengthy emergency operation, the patient—known only as John Doe—is now under the care of the trauma team, of which student doctor Mike Higgins is a member. As John Doe’s condition gradually improves, Higgins’ personal life deteriorates further, but there might be a way to reverse the downward spiral: if he sees to it that John Doe never leaves the hospital, Michael Higgins’ world may right itself.
I’m a former heart surgeon turned fiction writer. I write what can be described as medical mysteries, medical thrillers or novels of medical suspense, but I prefer to think of them as novels of surgical suspense.
What is surgical suspense? Surgeons, surgical diseases and the operating room are all inherently dramatic. As a former surgeon, I’ve experienced this drama first hand and thought it would make for good fiction. My surgery training took me from the knife-and-gun-club of LSU Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, to the famed Bellevue Hospital in Midtown Manhattan. My education as a writer includes an MFA degree where I was mentored by New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane, among other accomplished faculty.
I know a lot about medicine and surgery, I know a lot about writing and storytelling, and I believe that combining this vast and unusual right-brain/left-brain experience will make for interesting reading and discussion, so please visit often.
WOULD YOU TAKE A LIFE TO SAVE A LIFE? A cop would. A soldier would. How about a medical student? What if you were that student, and you had unrestricted access to the comatose trauma patient who shattered your personal life two months earlier, and by taking his life you could piece yours back together? THE FINAL PUSH is the (fictional) story of Michael Higgins, a third-year medical student who finds himself in that very situation.
The Final Push
heart was blue, almost black, and quivering like a sack of worms, a complete
lack of organized contraction. The lung, a smoker’s lung, pink but marbled with
dark pigment, billowed from the incision each time the respiratory therapist
squeezed the football-shaped ambu bag. These were the images playing in Mike
Higgins’ mind as he slipped into one of the top bunks in the surgery on-call
room. He had just observed his first ER thoracotomy, the most coveted surgical
procedure for a medical student to witness. A patient with a stab wound to the
heart loses his vital signs. Two swipes of the scalpel from spine to sternum
opens the left chest cavity. The ribs, cranked apart with a rib spreader. The
aorta, cross-clamped. The pericardial sac, opened with scissors, exposing a
penetrating injury to the right ventricle of the heart, which is sutured
quickly, and the patient is rushed to the operating room for a definitive