Spare Parts

The Story of Medicine Through the History of Transplant Surgery

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Pub Date 10 May 2022 | Archive Date 24 May 2022


Paul Craddock's Spare Parts offers an original look at the history of medicine itself through the rich, compelling, and delightfully macabre story of transplant surgery from ancient times to the present day.

How did an architect help pioneer blood transfusion in the 1660's?
Why did eighteenth-century dentists buy the live teeth of poor children?
And what role did a sausage skin and an enamel bath play in making kidney transplants a reality?

We think of transplant surgery as one of the medical wonders of the modern world. But transplant surgery is as ancient as the pyramids, with a history more surprising than we might expect. Paul Craddock takes us on a journey - from sixteenth-century skin grafting to contemporary stem cell transplants - uncovering stories of operations performed by unexpected people in unexpected places. Bringing together philosophy, science and cultural history, Spare Parts explores how transplant surgery constantly tested the boundaries between human, animal, and machine, and continues to do so today.

Witty, entertaining, and illuminating, Spare Parts shows us that the history - and future - of transplant surgery is tied up with questions about not only who we are, but also what we are, and what we might become.

Paul Craddock's Spare Parts offers an original look at the history of medicine itself through the rich, compelling, and delightfully macabre story of transplant surgery from ancient times to the...

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Featured Reviews

This was a very interesting read. Through the telling of the history of transplantation, it also provides a more general overview of medical history and views on the nature of health and illness through time and across cultures. This history is full of fascinating, and often flawed, figures making some questionable, and some inspired leaps in observation and creativity.

Understanding this history makes it possible to appreciate just how remarkable a technological achievement it is to be able to prolong life through organ and tissue transplantation.

The writing is accessible to readers without a strong background in biology or natural science, without feeling like it's "dumbed down." Overall, the tone is lively and conversational. Recommended for those interested in the topic

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interesting review of medical procedure history. ******************************************************************************

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Thank you for the free ARC of this book. This was funny, at times ridiculous, but very informative. The author presented the facts about the history of medicine and surgery in a very entertaining way.

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Spare Parts
By Paul Craddock

This book chronicles the history of transplants – both what we think of as "transplants" such as heart, kidney, or lung – and also much earlier experimentation with skin grafts, blood transfusions, and tooth transplants. The earliest known examples date back to early Egypt and Greece and gradually through most societies, including England and France as well as other European countries.

Mr. Craddock's presentation of the various procedures developed and the prevailing beliefs about the nature of the human body, while graphic and sometimes horrific, makes for interesting reading and leads the reader to understand how man, through trial and error, has developed the techniques we use today in order to save lives.

While some of the ideas and experiments he describes can now to seen to be rather farfetched, Mr. Craddock has provided the reader with a lot of information to show how modern medicine has evolved.

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I love reading about medical related themes. The first half of Spare Parts is history heavy and interesting. I was both repelled and fascinated by the section on noses. Prior to reading the book I had no idea that this gruesome practice of nose removal occurred during sword/knife fights. Skin grafts, blood transfusions, teeth transplants make up the first half along with a brief history of medical education. Oh, the resistance by doctors to evidence based care throughout history!
The second half of the book begins with the early twentieth century and was more relatable. I would have liked it if more attention was paid to the problems of organ rejection and where we are today in this field. The author lightly touches on the ethics of selling a body part, and organ trafficking. Again, I wish there was more about these topics.

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin"s Press for providing me with a copy to read and review.

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Spare Parts by Paul Craddock is most thorough history of transplant medicine. The author has given the reader so much documentation in a well conceived history format. He has supplied wonderful anecdotes that brings the reader into the time period represented. This also makes the book an easily readable history of the subject.
Amazing that people survived some of these surgeries and grateful for the technological advances in this science of transplantation.

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This was a fascinating read. You don't have to have a medical background to enjoy this book. The history and progression is intriguing. Believe it or not some of the book will make you laugh. I have always enjoyed books on medicine and this one fit the bill. Some of the descriptions are graphic in nature and will certainly make you glad you weren't born then. It's really a good read. Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a copy of the book to read and review.

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A comprehensive review of the early history of transplants. I had had a vague understanding of the earliest transplants, and this book gave an enjoyable, educational, overview. The language is easy for the reader to understand, and it is a good blend of history and science. I was expecting more on the topic of modern transplants, but the description of the first transplants is so thorough that it is not too much of an omission. This book also addresses issues of identity related to our organs and explores important ethical considerations. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in anatomy, history, or science.

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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy of this medical history and study book.

Medical history is probably one of the most diverse and fascinating areas of study, filled with dreamers, schemers and entrenched personages blocking any sort of change or fresh ideas to take hold, it is incredible that humans are still around. I am still amazed how long it took to get doctors just to wash their hands. Many modern medical marvels were known to ancient times, facial reconstruction, trepanation, even teeth transplants. Paul Craddock in his book Spare Parts: The Story of Medicine Through the History of Transplant Surgery investigates the rich medical history of transplants, where the ideas came from, the many successes and the many failures that increased our medical knowledge, from the middle ages to the present day.

The book starts with our early ancestors and how they had a decent grasp of medicine and knowledge that somehow was lost for thousands of years. The rebuilding of noses, the transplanting of teeth all where documented, but was later forgotten or judges as unnecessary as doctors decided that humours controlled the body's health, and bleeding seemed the cure for all, not putting things back in. The book moves to the 16th century and the rise of war all over the European continent led to many a nose being cut or shot off, leading to a need for artificial noses and skin grafting. The book moves to blood transfusions, again teeth, kidney and heart transplants. Along the way many men with great ideas are introduced, many men try to make a profit, other men try to stop the advance, and notable contributions by women are forgotten or ignored.

The book is very well written with a nice loose style that manages to convey quite a lot without bogging down, or being to filled with terminology. Readers don't need a medical degree to understand, which shows a very gifted writer. Everything is clear, sometimes funny, sometimes very sad, with a lot of knowledge being shared. Readers will learn quite a bit, without feeling they are being lectured to.

A very thoughtful book, which raises a lot of medical questions that still need to be answered or addressed today. Who can get transplants, what are the ethics of using poor people for organ farms. A few incidents at the end of the book are very frightening and disquieting, with not real answers or enforcement. Definitely recommended for people who enjoy books on medicine,or for readers who enjoy books on odd medical facts such as Dr. Mutter's Marvels, and general history readers. A captivating study of the growth of medicine with many ethical questions, and very funny asides. A very good gift for Father's Day.

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Paul Craddock's Spare Parts offers an original look at transplant surgery from ancient times to the present day. It is a story focused on unacceptable experiments, based on modern standards, that have led to creative solutions to important medical maladies. Craddock provides insights into how transplant surgery has advanced in a well-documented and enjoyable read.

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I most thoroughly enjoyed reading Spare Parts. Paul Craddock manages to take the reader on a journey of discovery and bring into focus a few of the great medical breakthroughs as it relates to transplants. There are so many little fascinating details that add color to the nuts and bolts of trying to get the experiments right. The backstories and the egos of the people involved helped bring the many trials to life. I don’t have a medical background but found this book extremely interesting and easy to read. I would highly recommend it.

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I found Paul Craddock's Spare Parts: The Story of Medicine Through the History of Transplant Surgery to be an interesting look at history of medicine through the past. I am giving it five stars.

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This was a quirky, interesting, gruesome - mostly in a good way - read that I found fascinating! I had no idea the history of transplantation stretched so far back and that it was so widespread in practice throughout history and geography.

The writing is well done and the topics are interesting. It's a difficult read in large doses, because a lot of the descriptions - particularly of the early processes -are pretty grisly. It's not for the faint of heart but it is definitely worth checking out if you have an interest in the history of science and anatomy.

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I liked this book. It gently and pleasantly meanders through medical history and covers quite a bit of ground. The book also provides a good, uncomplicated look at transplantation, with not a lot of scientific detail, but what science there is was clearly explained. There is some cute, clever wording and some humor. Overall, this is an enjoyable read. Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the advance reader copy.

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This is a fascinating history of transplants and their possible future, grown to order. It is interesting that it starts with skin transplants, moving a persons skin to repair a nose or ear lost to war or dueling. This history includes Russian two-headed dogs, illegal kidney transplants, and the awkward progress toward understanding the realities of blood transfusion and immune system response including twins, heterogenous transplants from other species, and a surprisingly small pool of 20th Century actors such as:

* perfusion innovator and aviator Charles Lindbergh
* Nobel Prize winning scientist Alexis Carrel
* Willem Kolff: pioneer of hemodialysis, artificial heart, as well as in the entire field of artificial organs

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This was an interesting and informative read. A bit over-informative at times for my taste, but still enjoyable.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Super interesting read about the history of transplants - from the earliest blood transfusions to modern face transplants to what we could do in the future. To me it got a bit long winded at times but this was such an interesting read that I kept going.

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I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley for review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
This book is a fascinating and often disturbing account of the progression of early medicine to what we now know of transplants. Early thought, philosophy and religious views played a role as doctors learned from the world of plants, animals and donated human bodies. Interesting book and highly informative. Recommending for students of medicine and history.

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Aptly named Spare Parts spans barbaric transplant medicine from the 16th century to the present and glimpses into the future of 3D printing and bioglass. Author Paul Craddock injects humour into what is a gruesome and difficult topic. It is not heavy on scientific details, easily readable and endlessly fascinating from medical and social standpoints. Photographs are intriguing such as the portrait of Tycho Brahe and his artificial nose. Chapters are separated into spare parts (skin, teeth, heart...) and also include procedures such as skin grafting, organ donors, bloodletting, transfusions, learning anatomy from fresh cadavers, observing blood stream, injecting dye into blood vessels, animal-to-animal transplants, use of sausage casings and techniques of various transplant physicians throughout history

In the sixteenth century myths abounded but so did transplant experiments from the very weird to almost logical. Dentists hunted for teeth in cadavers and sometimes poor children to implant into the wealthy. There is a focus on human relationships and identities with organs such as skin. Interestingly, some practitioners viewed skin as a "crust" and invaluable. Horrendous experiments were performed on the living as they had to be, some on humans, others on animals, especially dogs. I was most fascinated with the section on skin.

You needn't have a medical background to glean information contained within but an interest in anatomy and medicine is beneficial. Some of the experiment descriptions involve animals and can therefore be disturbing.

My sincere thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this riveting and informative book. I learned so much!

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Spare Parts by Paul Craddock is an absolutely fascinating read. In addition to the science of transplants, I learned so much about the way society has viewed our bodies throughout history. There are incredibly graphic descriptions as well as funny, insightful stories and philosophical musings on the future of transplants. Highly recommend!

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4 engrossing stars

Occasionally witty, always well-researched and organized, Paul Craddock’s Spare Parts makes you glad to be born with ‘modern medicine’ available. I’m always surprised at how little was known about the body in the 1600s compared to what I knew in fifth grade. Readers do not need a science background to follow along with the fascinating conversational tone of the book.

The first half of the book covers the very old attempts to transplant parts, including noses and blood. The latter sections cover kidney dialysis and transplants and discuss heart, hand and face transplants.

Trigger warning: Not for the faint of heart (or stomach), some descriptions of early medical experiments can be a bit gross. Descriptions of experimenting on dogs and prisoners bothered me, as did children selling their teeth for money. Nothing is overtly graphic, just a bit yucky.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Spare Parts by Paul Craddock is a complex and fascinating look at the history of transplants. Actually, it’s the history of medicine, how medicine impacts us, and even how medicine and research helps us to know us.

The story begins in Renaissance Italy with a look at “skin”, beginning around 1550. From there we visit France and England, perennial rivals in everything, including medicine. In the 1600’s we see how the medical people thought of “blood” and how they conducted their research. From the mid-1600’s to the beginning of the 1800’s we learn all about “teeth” and tooth transplants. “Kidney” and “heart” transplants are covered in the 1900’s. The last chapter looks at the future of transplants. The book features artwork and drawings from all the years which are just as interesting as the words.

Complex topics are considered; this is not really a “beach read”. In addition to describing the progress of medicine in treating people and facilitating transplants, there is also much to consider from a spiritual, moral, and intellectual view. Is God in us.? What makes us “us”? Are we all different or really all the same? Despite covering complex science and philosophical area, the book is enjoyable to read.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance review copy. This is my honest review.

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Subtitled "The Story of Medicine Through the History of Transplant Surgery", first-time author Paul Craddock's "Spare Parts" is an amazing accomplishment. From the sixteenth century onward, he has shared the story of medicine through transplant and how it evolved.

You'd think this would be a boring read, but instead is absolutely fascinating. Written in an accessible style, some of it is gruesome, some funny, and some awe inspiring. Starting with skin in 1550 through Heart 1967 with projections on transplant future, there are surprises on every page. Most significant to me was the number of people over the years who contributed to making transplant a reality.

Alexis Carrel is considered the 'father of transplant surgery' and yet today is forgotten. One of his challenges was finding a better way to repair blood vessels. He took lessons from Marie-Anne Leroudier, one of Lyon's finest embroiderers. With her help he was able to further modify the technique which is considered the basis for today's vascular surgery "including bypass surgery".

The prologue, which describes a kidney transplant operation, was particularly of interest. The first successful one was performed in 1954 between twin brothers and doesn't seem that long ago. I received a kidney November 7, 2019.

Like any well-researched work, there are illustrations, notes, index, and an extensive selected bibliography. You can read "Spare Parts" without reference to them, which I did, but if you want to dig deeper, everything you need is there.

BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended.

Many thanks to the author, NetGalley, and St. Martin's Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Today we take things like dental surgery and medical transplants for granted. We get our blood tested before transplants. These weren't always a given, and the new book Spare Parts: The Story of Medicine Through the History of Transplant Surgery by Paul Craddock explores the world of transplants.  Craddock shows the origins of things like skin grafting, stem cell transplants, dental surgery, and even the really frightening idea of animal blood transplants to human beings to try and given them those characteristics.

Spare Parts is written intelligently, but in a way that is easily accessible to everyone. Be prepared for some pretty startling origins for modern procedures. For those who love medical history and the weird world around us, Spare Parts is a must read.

Spare Parts is available May 10, 2022.

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I really enjoyed this book that walks us through the past of early medicine to transplants as they are today. I often was reminded of Sawbones. We believed a lot of weird things! This is written expertly, but it also has a lot of humor. I really enjoyed the figures thrown in. One of my favorites has to be the one with the descriptor "Two men attempting to resuscitates a drowned woman by blowing into her anus."

I am in the medical field, but I really don't think you have to have any background in medicine to enjoy this book. Very little of this was part of any training I had. I certainly never learned about transfusions between different animals, for example.

This is definitely a 5 star read for me, and also a very quick read. Thank you netgalley and St. Martin's press for giving me an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I have to admit, I was wary about this book. I normally don't make it very far into books on science before my eyes glazing over and I feel like I'm back in freshman year bio.

Well, I was dead wrong. I loved this book. Paul Craddock's Spare Parts is more than just a history of medicine. It's also part sociology, a little bit of religion, and not a small amount of comedy. The story chronicles all of the parts of science and medicine as they come together to finally bring us to present day (and possible future) transplants.

I can't stress how many tones Craddock balances throughout the book. He gives you just enough science to understand what is happening without overdoing it. He praises many of his characters without shying away from the fact that some of them were really bad people otherwise. (Doctors could be narcissists? Who knew?!) Craddock plays it right down the middle and it makes for an easy and very entertaining experience.

Oh, and the poor animals. If you are squeamish...well you might been in for a rough time. In the end, it's worth it, though.

(This book was provided to me as an advance copy by Netgalley and St. Martin's Press. The full review will be posted to on 5/10/2022.)

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Pub date: 5/10/22
Genre: nonfiction, history of medicine
In one sentence: Transplant surgery has been around since ancient times - here's its untold history.

If you like history of science/medicine and aren't squeamish, this is the book for you! It was wild reading about how surgeons tried to do transplants before knowing anything about blood groups or self/non-self in the immune system. Author Paul Craddock does a great job telling an unvarnished history - I especially enjoyed the sections on teeth transplantation fueled by tooth "donations" from the lower class, egos surrounding the first heart transplants, and the early beginnings of dialysis. He connects everything back to the question of whether organs are indeed "spare parts" for the "machines" of our bodies, and it really made me think!

Thanks St. Martin's Press for providing a NetGalley ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Review posted to Goodreads and Instagram 5/8/22.

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Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a copy of Spare Parts by Paul Craddock to review.

Such an interesting introduction to transplant surgery. This well-researched book starts in the 1600s and moves through the centuries to present day. Plant grafts and nose jobs (even back then they were done), politics, teeth transplanted from poor kids to the mouths of the rich, why barbers were surgeons and a seamstress who taught a doctor her skills so that he and those that followed could better stitch organs into bodies. These are only a few of the things I learned on what influenced transplants while reading this book. A notes, bibliography, index section and illustrations are also included. Truly a fascinating read if you are interested in transplants and how they evolved.

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In all seriousness this book was fascinating! It answers such questions as:
“How did an architect help pioneer blood transfusion in the 1660's?
Why did eighteenth-century dentists buy the live teeth of poor children?
And what role did a sausage skin and an enamel bath play in making kidney transplants a reality?”

An impressive amount of research went into this book. Craddock delves into the science, sociology and religion behind medicine and transplants. You don’t need any sort of medical background to enjoy and understand this book. Craddock makes the information accessible for everyone without feeling like anything is watered down.

It amazed me how far we have come since the middle ages, with most of the advances happening in the not so distant past. There is a good deal of humor injected into the text, which makes sense considering some of the absurd beliefs that were held regarding the human body. For example, attempting to resuscitate a drowned person by blowing air or smoke into his/her anus in hopes that this would animate his/her “vital principle”.

One of the most interesting sections is the future of transplantation, which includes a 3D-printed material known as bioglass that can be used to encourage bone growth. Scientists have even seeded a spinach leaf with human heart cells through a process called decellularization. The scaffolding of plant vascular systems are remarkably similar to our own. How amazing!

The toughest part about the book is all of the animal experimentation and vivisection that is discussed. None of it was a surprise to me, especially since I briefly worked in lab animal research, but it may upset some readers.

Thanks so much to @stmartinspress for the gifted ARC and @netgalley for the e-galley!

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When I attempted to open the downloaded book it would not load and I did not feel it would be fair to rate this low if i was unable to open the book as it feel that is a technical issue. I like the concept a lot and think it would make for an interesting read!

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Do you know about transplant surgeries of the past? And how and where it all started? And have you heard about Waterloo teeth, skin grafts for the nose and the birth of blood transfusions and dialysis. If not, then you’re in for a treat. And did I mention the unique photos?!
I love the cover and loved the history of transplants. The subject matter held my attention and I learned a few things, not all good.
Things to look up about:
• Barber Poles
• Tooth worms
• Vitalism
This just scratched the surface on this fascinating topic but throughly entertaining. I highly recommend it.
Thanks St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.

I left my review on Amazon, Instagram, B&N, kobo, GR and FB.

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What an incredible ride through medical history ! Who knew how dark and sinister as well as full of hope and light the history of transplants could be? Well written and heavily researched this was a wonderfully written book. You will have a hard time putting it down as I was glued to it This author is a talented story teller and a reader of history . This is my first adult level non fiction book I have been given to review on Netgalley.
For those of you sensitive to stories about animal experimentation just a slight warning . Though I understand the reasoning behind describing these experiment it was slightly hard for me to get past those parts . However in the end it made me appreciate how much has truly been sacrificed in the name of scientific advancement .

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I didn’t think I would really like this book as much as I did, it even made me cry. Just thinking that if it wasn’t for Willem Johan Kolff who started dialysis for kidney and artificial heart, I wouldn’t have known my grandad. Paul Craddock, the author, wrote that even the Layman could understand it. He even narrates his own book which I loved. I have learned a lot about transplants then I knew that was out there. Spare Parts has me wanting to read more about
medical history and where it started.

Thank you Netgalley, St. Martin's Press and Macmillan Audio for letting me review this book.

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Spare Parts is a very readable history of the evolution of transplants of human body parts, from skin grafts through heart/lung and covering many centuries. Craddock gives us the science involved in an accessible manner. The entire book is my favorite kind of history, full of social, political and cultural context. From earliest times, we receive stories about the scientists and inventors who figured out what worked. We learn the impact on human lives from both the donors 'and the recipients' and the surgeons' perspectives. At its worst, we find that in fact there are stories of people's organs being stolen and of dirt poor children in England selling their teeth so the rich could have prettier smiles, only to find tooth transplants either don't work or don't last long. At its best, we learn about the invention of dialysis by a Dutch researcher and successful kidney transplants.

I am old enough to remember Dr. Christian Barnard and the first heart transplant, the handsome guy who was as much a celebrity at the time as he was a renowned surgeon. This book has great illustrations. Tantalizes us with current research that includes a picture of a spinach leaf with heart cells growing on it. Horrifies us with the number of animals who died in the many experiments that led to this work. Craddock writes with mostly a "this is what happened" and "this eventually was the backlash," manner. But he can't help expressly recognizing the values of those who crossed serious ethical and inhumane boundaries to get where we are. He writes with humor, compassion and makes everything very, very personal. I'd love to sit around and hear him talking in a living room at a pot luck dinner about his work. Well done!

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I wasn't sure what to think of the concept at first, but Craddock's voice made reading about transplants one part gruesome and three parts astoundingly interesting. Definitely one of my nonfiction favourites of the year, though not for those out there who might be a little squeamish. His dedication to being accurate and even at times more historical than necessary made for a fantastic read, and I'll be keeping him in my list.

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I thought this fascinating and compulsively readable and clearly well researched. It laid out the history of transplant surgery without getting too bogged down in the technical side of things. In fact, it functioned more as a history of ideas and I found the most interesting parts to be the discussions about how scientific and religious philosophies have related to the concept of transplants.

Craddock separates the book into chapters that focus on a time period as well as a body part being transplanted, from skin to blood to teeth to organs, like kidneys and hearts. He then ends with a short chapter on possible futures which include some comments on really fascinating experiments in transplant surgery as well as the critical lack of viable organs to be used in transplants in particular he compares the modern poor's selling of kidneys to the sale of teeth talked about earlier in the book.

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Dr. Craddock presents the “story of medicine“ in painstakingly researched detail, not surprising considering he earned his doctorate by exploring “how transplants have for centuries invited reflection on human identity”.

Transplant surgery and space exploration exploded in the mid 20th century. The first successful heart transplant by Dr. Christian Bernard in Cape Town, South Africa was only two years before astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

But long before either event could happen, scientists explored and learned the basics of astronomy and of medicine. Before physicians could even begin to think about moving organs around, they needed to know what organs are in the body, what they do, and how they interact. One crucial step was understanding the circulatory system and the role of blood, which was “still entangled with ancient humoral and religious ideas.”

Thus Dr. Craddock begins his narrative in 16th century Renaissance Italy where surgeons first mastered skin transplants, or grafting techniques, to replace lost noses. And he goes back in time to the ancient Greeks where we encounter the teachings of Galen and Hippocrates.

Thousands of years before organized medicine, schools, and hospitals, people began investigating the human body by observing and experimenting on plants and animals, sometimes in ways we consider unethical now. Their motives ranged from curiosity, to compassion, to commercial.

In this book you will learn such fascinating facts as

Early blood transfusions involved animal blood infused into people- and was often successful, at least for a short time.

The first dental procedure was tooth extraction; and implantation of “donor” teeth became quite lucrative.

“The tooth transplants were the first exchanges of body parts to become heartless financial transactions.“

The differing definitions of death in each country played a role in the first heart transplant being done in South Africa instead of the United States

A pharmaceutical company made a breakthrough anti-rejection drug from fungal spores; soil samples containing the fungus had immune suppressive properties

The first kidney “transplant” was done by taping a kidney to the patient’s arm after attaching the blood vessels to her existing diseased kidney

By understanding vaccination, scientists developed the technique for blood typing, making blood transfusion safe.

In Iran, it is legal to sell one’s kidney. After all, “one kidney is enough.”

History and medicine buffs will recognize many familiar names like Aristotle, Galen, Copernicus, Boyle, Boerhaave, Harvey, Jenner, Lindbergh, Bernard, and Cooley. But the majority of characters are previously unknown, unsung players in the search for the mystery of human life.

“The story of transplantation is not merely..technical progress..but a primarily human journey….about how we understand our bodies, and our relationships with one another and with ourselves.”

One caveat for this book; although Dr Craddock tells his story tastefully it may not be appropriate for those who are squeamish about medical or bodily descriptions. I found some of the narrative convoluted at times, getting lost in the details. For those who like to delve deeply into historical narrative be warned that it's not a quick read but well worth the time and effort for serious students of medical history.

NetGalley and St Martin’s Press supplied a digital copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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Spare Parts by Paul Craddock


316 Pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: May 10, 2022

Nonfiction, Health, Transplants, Organ Transplants, Historical, Reference

The book is divided into the following chapters:

Chapter 1: Skin (1550 – 1597)
Chapter 2: Blood, Animals to Animals (1624 – 1665)
Chapter 3: Blood, Animals to Humans (1666 – 1670)
Chapter 4: Teeth (1685 – 1803)
Chapter 5: Organs, Kidney (1901 – 1954)
Chapter 6: Organs, Heart (1967 --)
Chapter 7: Transplant Future

This book was very informative. I was unaware of the history of transplants especially teeth. Each chapter provides information on the scientist, doctor, and/or surgeon responsible for the discovery.

I was surprised to learn about Charles Lindbergh’s contribution on the organ pump. I knew about his involvement with Nazism but not that he was an honored guest of Hermann Goring. I was stunned to read about Alexis Carrel’s his book Man, the Unknown in which he comments about eugenics and mankind. He suggests killing the weak and keeping the best as done with dog breeding. If he felt that way, why did he invent a device to save patients’ lives with organ transplants. This is an excellent reference for anyone interested in the history of organ transplants.

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Spare Parts is an entertaining and highly informative overview of the history of man’s search for the ability to fix human bodies through transplanting healthy or man made parts for ones either lost or damaged. Surprisingly, to me, “medical” thinkers have been musing on this for millennia, since the days of the Greeks.

Craddock is a skilled writer, combining medical history, history, knowledge of medicine, and some good awareness of psychology along with a sharp wit in telling the tale, covering especially the past five centuries of transplant “thoughts” among the medical folk or those who were the nearest at the time, i.e. barbers. Among the facts that struck me: among the major needs of some men of the 17th century were replacements or substitutes for noses and ears lost in duels. There was a segment of society that could not easily appear in public because of their disfiguring injuries though they were still healthy.

But at the time the notions of what could be done to or for the human body were still caught up up in bloodletting. Those with imagination began to experiment in strange ways with animals. Then there were the many decades of teeth transplants! Craddock takes the story up to the present, with a sneak peak at what the future may hold. Along the way, he has also discussed the philosophical and religious implications of all of these developments.

Definitely a recommended book. It is an accessible read…you do not need advanced degrees to follow the story. There are useful illustrations, footnotes and full bibliography.

A copy of this book was provided by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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I'll admit that the history of medical procedures has never been a subject high on my reading list, but the synopsis for Spare Parts hooked me, and I'm so glad it did! Paul Craddock deftly combines extensive research with engaging text, giving us a look at the early experiments and practices that paved the way to modern medical care. There were a couple of times I felt an info-dump overload, but Craddock's writing (and humor) kept me hooked. Fair warning: there is some shudder-inducing gross descriptions, but hey, medieval medicine wasn't exactly a pristine profession. Highly recommend.

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Spare Parts: The Story of Medicine Through the History of Transplant Surgery by Paul Craddock is a very interesting look at the history of transplant surgery. Anyone with an inquisitive mind will love picking up this book and learning more. Honestly, a great read from start to finish. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.

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Spare Parts: The Story of Medicine Through the History of Transplant by Paul Craddock, a history much longer than I had ever imagined. The book begins with skin grafts. The first historical accounts of transplants were skin grafts in ancient India. The technique then arose In Europe in the 16th c with nose grafts - apparently it was not uncommon for knights to lose their noses to sword fights or disease. The book then looks at the evolution of medicine through blood transfusions, teeth transplants, and organ transplants including kidneys and hearts.Along the way, Craddock introduces the readers to the heroic and, in many cases, the not so heroic figures behind the failures and successes that led to today. He also looks at the possibilities of advances in the future of transplants including 3D printing of body parts.

Spare Parts is a well-written and compelling account of the history and evolution of transplants and medicine over the centuries. It is a fascinating read even for someone like me with no medical background and very little knowledge of medical history. I’m not sure I would call it enjoyable - there was a certain yuck factor and I have a greater appreciation for the suffering of animals in the search for medical advances - but it was a fascinating read and I can’t recommend it highly enough for anyone interested in history or medicine or both.

<i>I’d like to thank Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review</i>

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