Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub launches biography

Friday 20 October 2023

Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub at the book launch event

Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub

Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, who made his name at Harefield Hospital to become one of the world’s most eminent cardiothoracic surgeons, has launched his official biography.

Professor Yacoub OM famously carried out the first heart and lung transplant in Europe at Harefield in 1983 and was granted the Order of Merit by Her Majesty the Queen in 2014. He launched his biography at a packed event attended by prominent guests, friends and family at the Royal Brompton.

Amid those clamouring to get signed copies were former patients, colleagues, friends and family, and VIPs including His Excellency the Egyptian Ambassador Sherif Kamel and his wife Heba Ismail, and His Eminence Bishop Angaelos, the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London. Leaders from the many charities associated with and inspired by Prof Yacoub, including the Chain of Hope, also attended.

Professor Yacoub said he was deeply touched by the warmth and affection which was so obvious at the event, and spoke modestly of the ‘sacred’ bond between doctor and patient which had led him to pursue his career.

“People think of surgeons as heroes but we are not – we are very ordinary people – I am a very ordinary person. I am just extremely lucky to be attached to a very noble profession and to have worked with very good teams, to change lives. Heart surgery in particular can change not just one life but an entire community of people,” said Prof Yacoub.

Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub signing copies of his book

Professor Yacoub signing copies of his book

The biography, A surgeon and a maverick, was written by former senior Times journalists Simon Pearson and Fiona Gorman. It tells the extraordinary story of the young Egyptian doctor who arrived in the UK in 1961 and spent the next half century challenging, exciting and eventually transforming medical practice, from the transplant unit he established at Harefield Hospital.

In 1983, he achieved worldwide recognition for the first heart and lung transplant in Europe, and went on to develop groundbreaking procedures such as that used to switch the Great Arteries of the heart when babies are born with them the wrong way round.

Simon Pearson said: “It was a privilege to get to know Magdi over the past three years and to try to tell his story in a manner that truly reflected his achievements – the failures and remarkable successes, the pioneering surgery in Britain, his struggle to push the boundaries of surgery and science, and then to bring the benefits of cardiac medicine to parts of the world where little was available.”

Fiona Gorman said: “We hope that what we have pieced together is a fascinating portrait of this indefatigable surgeon and scientist, this doting grandfather and father, this charming and engaging man. Above all else, we hope - as he does - that it is a story that will inspire others to follow his extraordinary path.”

Robert Craig, who managed the Harefield transplant centre in the 1990s and is now Director of Operations and Development for Royal Brompton and Harefield, said it had  been “a pleasure and a privilege to contribute in a small way to some of the great things Magdi Yacoub has achieved so far.”

The biography, A surgeon and a Maverick, with a foreword by Dame Mary Archer, is published by the American University in Cairo Press and a proportion of the proceeds is being donated to the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation.

Last updated: October 2023

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