I have some great friends who are family doctors, surgeons, emergency department doctors, marine biologists, zoologists and vets. Over the years out for a drink or in dinner conversations, I have noticed among some of my doctoring friends a mild demeanor of superiority when referencing their animal doctor colleagues. I have also noted some frustration from my animal doctor friends at the closed mindedness of their human doctor colleagues. One such conversation was over a new drug the Perth Zoo had been using to treat the knees of its giraffes for years. My friend, a zoo vet, was amazed that the medicine was still being relatively sidelined for use in humans to date.
Dr Matt Morgan, an intensive care consultant, is definitely not one of those doctors who are closed off to the study of animal science and its cross fertilization into human medicine. His new book One Medicine is full of discoveries - some recent, some older; that have crossed over from animal science into human medicine.
The Book from the start is full of Matt's sense of humour. You can almost hear the the laughter in his voice in the first chapter as he states "The cemetery was a strange place to think about vagina's, especially three of them". He is actually referring to the study of kangaroos three vaginas; and the amazing story of how they were used to improve in-vitro fertilisation success rates in humans. I don't think I am ever going to be able to look at a kangaroo in the same way every again after reading this book.
Matt's anecdotes traverse the globe including the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Bali and closer to home with acquaintance, Perth Nobel Prize winner, Barry Marshall. His story revolves around Marshall's study of old reports on cats, cows and dogs and how he used this research to find his now famous treatment for ulcers in the human body. Apparently his medical colleagues laughed him out of the room when he first brought it up with them. The anecdote illustrates Dr Matt's view that animal medicine is sometimes seen in the medical profession as "just too weird".
Matt's book covers many animals, Koala's, whales, moles to name but a few; however, the giraffe comes in for some special attention. Who would have thought that watching how a giraffe breathes could help save the life of someone struggling with asthma; and that the study of a giraffe would assist in modern medicine's treatment brain injuries. Matt describes the tragic case of Ifan and the logic behind counter intuitively increasing blood pressure to the brain to save a human life in this procedure derived from the giraffe. He goes on further to discuss the use of the giraffe's adaptations, that have been studied in the construction of modern day G-Suits - saving countless lives as we push the limits of humans beyond the sound barrier and into space.
The book is a thoroughly enjoyable read, very accessible, at times hilarious, and at times serious; as it deals with our human mortality and how the study of animals can help us and perhaps we can help them.....
"In humanity's quest to tackle some of our biggest health challenges, the animal kingdom can provide a rich and often surprising source of inspiration. In this dazzling book, full of extraordinary revelations, the reader is transported on an intriguing journey through the natural world and how it is helping to inspire doctors around the world on the frontiers of medicine," Publishers Review
About the Author
Dr Matt Morgan is a British intensive care doctor. His open letter addressed to patients during the 2020 COVID pandemic has been read by over half a million people worldwide and viewed by over two million times after featuring on the Channel 4 news.
His articles have featured in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Sunday Mirror and The Huffington Post. A regular writer for the internationally acclaimed British Medical Journal, his article “A letter from the ICU” is one of their most popular ever opinion articles, read by over 130,000 people in 2020.
His first book CRITICAL (2019, Simon & Schuster) has been translated into four languages. He has spoken to large audiences at some of the largest book festivals in the world including Hay and Ubud in 2019.
Since narrating the audiobook of CRITICAL, he has spoken on a number of popular podcasts and radio programmes including with the BBC and international talk shows. He has been nominated for the 2020 Royal Society David Attenborough Prize.
He lives in Cardiff with his family, enjoys CrossFit, photography, cold beer and even colder ice cream.