Open-Heart Surgery for Dummies

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The Cover

Open-Heart Surgery for Dummies was added to the "Dummies" series in 2002 in light of a sudden demand for cheaper heart surgery. The do-it-yourself method was popularised by this book, written by Gerald Carter, a freelance writer with no medical experience whatsoever, although he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.


Here are a few excerpts from the popular book:

From the introduction:

Are you tired of having your loved ones' heart surgery being performed by those pesky experienced surgeons? Who isn't? In this book, we show you how to fix heart valves, repair arteries, and patch up holes- on the cheap!

From Chapter 1 - Preparing:

"Be prepared! That is what heart surgeons would say if they were also Boy Scouts. This rings true in the field of on-your-own heart surgery as well. Always make sure to wash your hands before surgery, and be sure you have all the proper tools, scalpel, thread, duct tape, and kitchen knife.

From Chapter 1.5 - Anaesthesia:

It may be interesting for the patient if he or she remains conscious during the exercise, but most surgeons choose to apply some form of anaesthesia, because they do not like it when the patient criticizes their work. One of the most common methods is to hit the patient very hard on the head with a hammer. Where to hit, how often to hit, it is all covered in this chapter. Alternatives are also covered, involving gagging and tying up the victim patient. When gagging be sure to gag the patient tight enough so that any scream or sound is muffled.

From Chapter 2 - The Heart:

The heart can be sometimes difficult to find, especially if you are operating on mean people. The heart is the red throbby thing right inside the ribcage. Start up, and scan down the body. If you see a long coiling thingy that appears to be digesting things, you've gone too far.

From Chapter 3 - Materials:

Don't have everything you need? Improvise! The ribcage can be opened with a simple tire jack. Most brands of tape can hold together holes. Need a place to put the heart when you're taking a break? The icebox is a great resting spot! Just make sure you don't confuse it with the steaks!

From Chapter 4 - Surgery:

You've made it! Time to shine. Find somebody you know with a heart defect. (Be sure that they're comfortable with the fact that it's very likely that you'll screw up if it's one of your first few dozen 'trial' runs.) The most important thing is to remain calm. The only thing that panicking does is make you realize that it's incredibly stupid to perform heart surgery yourself. Clearly, that is not very productive when you are going to perform it anyway, and may badly influence the outcome of the operation.

Fron Chapter 5 - Prenatal Heart Surgery:

Many unborn children suffer from heart problems, often stemming from inbreeding or the prenatal kidney surgery you performed on them last week. This chapter will prepare you to deal with delicate immature bones and undeveloped tissues without confusing the hearts of mother and child. Special bonus section: Twins!

From Chapter 10 - Dealing with Fatalities:

Every surgeon has one that, well, doesn't make it. Every completely inexperienced neanderthal has about five a week. You'll need to learn how to cope. Be sure to have a malpractice lawyer on hand. (Can't find one? Just buy Malpractice Defence for Dummies at your local bookstore!)


The book received a heavy amount of negative criticism from the press. A reviewer from the New York Times described it as "the story of horribly poor judgement told from the perspective of a blathering idiot... the pariah of our time." It was later noted that this was supposed to be for the review of Paris Hilton's autobiography. Harold Edwards of the Tucson Register complained, "this book killed my wife! This man needs to be sued!" Carter responded by saying "For more information, please purchase Dealing With Accidentally Killing Your Wife Via Botched Surgery for Dummies."

Arguments in favor[edit]

Various arguments in favor of using the book have been mentioned in the technical literature. A selection of these:

  • People teach themselves Rocket Science, swimming, car racing etc. from books, so why not Open-Heart Surgery?
  • Many surgeons who hold degrees in medical science have passed their exams with some F's, many C's and D's, and perhaps even no A or B grades at all! People learning the contents of this book well, may do better than them.
  • Often, laymen are far more careful than experienced, boasting, "know it all, been there, done that" surgeons.
  • The worst that can happen is, that the patient dies. We all do, sooner or later, and it happens to qualified surgeons, too, that some of their patients die during surgery.
  • In many countries there are long waiting lists for Open-Heart Surgery in clinics. Be smart, do it at home!
  • Use of the book is money-saving. The patient can go on holiday with this money that is saved, which is good for the heart and may result in a speedy recovery!
  • People who do not like reading or who are even illiterate can still use the book as the pictures are self-explanatory and give complete information.
  • There is a braille version of the book, so the blind can use it, too!



Despite being a critical failure, the book was wildly popular and remained on the Bestseller list for two years. It was later determined that a glitch in the website's code caused this and that in fact only 5 copies were sold.


Gerald set the record for most lawsuits originating from a book, with 1135 1152 1201 1312 1574 1642 2000.

See Also[edit]


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