The second chapter of Texas Monthly executive editor Mimi Swartz’s new book, Ticker: The Quest to Create an Artificial Heart, is titled “How Hard Can It Be?” The short answer is, “exceedingly.” For decades, since the first open heart surgery, a reliable implantable device—a successful artificial heart—has been an innovation always just out of reach, but not for lack of trying. Ticker details the struggle and lands at the intersection of medicine and technology, focusing on daring doctors and brave patients, and ultimately asks the biggest question of all: what’s the morality of putting a dent in mortality?
Swartz has the bona fides to transform a complicated medical story into a dazzling narrative. Both of her National Magazine Awards have been for health care-related stories. Her 1995 “Not What the Doctor Ordered” detailed how insurance companies call the shots and how the companies even then might’ve been worried more about their health than yours. Her second award went to “Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Wives,” a look at the state of women’s health care in Texas.
On The National Podcast of Texas, we talk about not just Ticker, but also about Swartz’s reporting on Hurricane Harvey and one of the most-talked-about Texas Monthly stories of the year, “How Houston Lost Its Mind Over a Trump Shirt.”
Read an excerpt of Swartz’s book here.