A young, talented surgical resident, Dr. Abby Di Matteo, is recruited to become a future member of Bayside Hospital’s organ transplant team. Seems perfect – a dream job where she will be doing something she loves while working with her fiancée.
The catch? She and Chief Resident, Dr. Vivian Chao, take a heart listed in a donor registry for their dying teenage patient, but somehow slated at the last moment for a wealthy woman who is number three on the donor list. The husband of the rich patient is incensed and tries to ruin Dr. Matteo’s career. Terrible murder accusations are made, but no one believes in her innocence except Chao who did the organ harvest with her. Matteo wonders whom she can trust, especially when the origin of the transplant heart becomes suspect.
This action packed novel is full of surgical detail along with personal, legal and professional drama. A parallel story of potential transplant donors (involving the Russian Mafia) is tragic and horrifying at the same time.
Organ harvesting is certainly not new, but in 1996, when this book was first published, the medical community in the U.S. was undergoing yet another review of the process of matching donors with recipients. It had been legal to donate organs for over thirty years, but as transplants of all types became routinely successful, doctors of the gravely ill sought more donors. It became important to establish a national clearinghouse for the available organs, ranking potential recipients by need for the organ, not by income level. This ranking eliminated questions of unfairness, but wasn’t foolproof. Enter a new phase for the medical thriller.
A bit of literary trivia: “Harvest” mentions a paralyzing drug, succinylcholine. This drug is widely used by anesthesiologists to induce muscle relaxation during surgery, but in the wrong dose can cause wide-awake paralysis. If you enjoy medical thrillers, you might remember the same drug used in Cook’s “Foreign Body” (published in 2008) with very different results.
Please visit www.tessgerritsen.com for more information about Gerritsen’s many bestsellers, including the Rizzoli & Isles series upon which the TV show is based.