For every doctor there is that one patient, whose story touches them in a way they didn’t expect, changing their entire outlook on life. This inspiring and deeply moving book is the story of those patients.
Every weekend, in Holland’s most popular newspaper, de Volkskrant, renowned science-journalist Ellen de Visser asks a different medical professional to tell her about ‘that one patient’; the patient who changed everything for them.
Every day, in every country, thousands of patients share their stories with their doctors: stories they may never have told anyone else; stories that are heartbreaking, sometimes funny, and – just occasionally – unforgettable. To be able to do their job to the best of their abilities, medical experts use their ‘professional empathy’: they sympathize with their patients but try to keep themselves at a distance. But there is always that one patient who, for whatever reason, bridges this distance and often unwittingly, has a lasting impact on their doctor’s life.
There’s the dying patient whose decision to donate their organs would save the lives of five different people, bringing incredible comfort to the family they left behind. Or the little girl who showed clear evidence of having been beaten by an adult, but who remained too loyal to her step-father to say a word. There’s the little boy, diagnosed with life-threatening malaria in a Sudanese refugee camp, whose astonishing survival against the odds still inspires their doctor each time they stand by the bed of a child who looks unlikely to make it. And there’s the cancer patient whose love of cycling and unflagging optimism inspired his oncologist in ways he could never have imagined.
That One Patient is brimming with intimate stories of connection and of the unanticipated ways we can affect one other’s lives. All of them remind us of just how extraordinary humans can be, and of our incredible capacity for bravery, strength and humour.