Hope, Healing, and a Life in Transplant

by David Weill, M.D.

Praise for Exhale

“David Weill gives us a glimpse of the volatile and intense world of a transplant doctor, where split-second decisions can make the difference between life and death. Weill writes with candor about his background and the choices that brought him to his profession, enabling the reader to understand his motivations and ambition. “EXHALE” is a captivating read about the courage and also the toll it takes to work at this rarified level of medicine.“
Daphne Merkin, author of 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love

Exhale is a compelling exploration of the beguiling world of transplantation. David Weill cranks up the hood to show us the engine—the stunning technological wizardry and the towering human dedication, as well as the oil-stained innards of profit and ego. You won’t look at your lungs in the same way again!”
Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, author of When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error

“…David Weill M.D takes readers through the painfully difficult decisions made by doctors involved in the transplant world and how their work drastically impacts their personal lives. With great clarity, the author captures the euphoria and intoxication of saving a life, alongside the brutal anguish of losing one and the lifelong trauma of burnout that ensues thereafter.  A must read for everyone, including those who have lost themselves in who they’re being for everyone else.
Juliette Watt, Compassion Fatigue expert, TEDx Speaker.

“Exhale” should be read by every doctor—and by anyone—who stays up too late and works too much”
Philip C. Breen, MD, PhD (father of Dr. Lorna Breen)

“Dr. Weill provides us with a peek into the operating rooms where desperately ill patients are given new lungs, and into the conference rooms where medical staffs make their life-and-death decisions. He takes a hard look at the criteria used to decide who “deserves” a chance at life with a pristine new pair of lungs, and explains how these decisions affect patients, their families, hospital staff, and ultimately himself. Maturing from a hard-driving transplant doctor into a more compassionate, and realistic, clinician who finally allows himself to feel the anguish of the patients and their family, Dr. Weill finds he must confront his own unrelenting focus on treatment success. He takes stock of the toll his furious assault on death has taken on his own life, and his own family. This is a riveting read, both for Dr. Weill’s deep understanding of the delights and disasters of lung transplantation, and for his narrative about the procedure’s human toll.”
—Laurence M. Westreich, M.D, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine

About the Book

David Weill MD’s Exhale: Hope, Healing, and a Life in Transplant is a medical memoir describing the emotional seesaw of saving and losing lives, and the toll it took on one of the most successful transplant doctors in the country. Pulling back the curtain, Exhale reveals the dangers of doctor burnout and the human side of America’s healthcare system.

A young father with a rare form of lung cancer who has been turned down for a transplant by several hospitals. A kid who was considered not “smart enough” to be worthy of a transplant. A young mother dying on the waiting list in front of her two small children. A father losing his oldest daughter after a transplant goes awry. The nights waiting for donor lungs to become available, understanding that someone needed to die so that another patient could be saved.

These are some of the stories in Exhale, a memoir about Dr. Weill’s ten years spent directing the lung transplant program at Stanford. Through these stories, he shows not only the miracle of transplantation, but also how it is a very human endeavor performed by people with strengths and weaknesses, powerful attributes, and profound flaws. Dr. Weill is one of those people.

Exhale is an inside look at the world of high-stakes medicine, complete with the decisions that are confronted, the mistakes that are made, and the story of a transplant doctor’s slow recognition that he needed to step away from the front lines. This book is an exploration of holding on too tight, of losing one’s way, and of the power of another kind of decision—to leave behind everything for a fresh start.

About the Author

David Weill is the former Director of the Center for Advanced Lung Disease and the Lung Transplant Program at Stanford. He is currently the Principal of Weill Consulting Group, which focuses on improving the delivery of transplant care. Dr. Weill’s writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Salon, Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, STAT, and the Washington Post. He also has been interviewed on CNN and by the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Wall Street Journal. He lives with his wife and two daughters in New Orleans.

Exhale by David Weill

Post Hill Press