The acclaimed neurosurgeon Henry Marsh is returning to the Grand Theatre, Clitheroe, to talk about his remarkable second memoir, Admissions: A life in Brain Surgery.
Marsh made the decision to be a brain surgeon after he had witnessed the miracle of his three-month old son survive the complex removal of a brain tumour.
Marsh’s first operation, to clip a brain aneurysm, not only saved a life but restored an individual to his self.
“What could be finer, I thought, than to be a neurosurgeon,” said Marsh, who visits the Grand in May.
“The operation involved the brain, the mysterious substrate of all thoughts and feeling, of all that was important in human life – a mystery, it seemed to me, as great as the stars at night and the universe around us.”
Now, four decades later, he has reached the end of a distinguished career as one of Britain’s most gifted neurosurgeons.
“To be a neurosurgeon, you have to have a big ego, and be decisive and confident. A lot of surgery is still a one-man act.”
He added: “I have learnt that handling the brain tells you nothing about life – other than to be dismayed by its fragility.
“Surgery is a very narrow tightrope.”
He continues to work, mostly in a volunteer capacity, offering his experience and teaching in clinics in Nepal, Ukraine and London.
“On retirement from the National Health Service, I was horrified that I could live for another 20 years - and what on earth was I going to do with that time.
“I was a workaholic, and although neuro-surgery was terribly stressful I never had to worry about what I was going to do the next day.”
He added: “I could have stayed on for a couple more years in the NHS, but I had become disillusioned.
“The feeling that there was something special about being a doctor had disappeared.
“We traditionally think that a doctor’s role is to save lives, but modern medicine is no longer like that.”
An Evening with Henry Marsh: Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery.