On a beautiful spring morning in 1989, neurosurgeon and spine expert Volker Sonntag was just finishing rounds at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. At that same moment sixteen miles away, a hard-charging boy named TJ veered his bike into the path of a speeding pickup truck. The impact all but killed the boy, leaving him with a shattered leg, severe internal injuries, a massive blood clot near the brain stem, and—but for the fragile spinal cord—a complete separation of the skull from the spine.
This is the riveting story of how Dr. Sonntag's pioneering innovation that day launched him into the forefront of the emerging field of spinal neurosurgery. Surgeon to a Who’s Who of royalty, celebrities and politicians, his clear-eyed accounts of failures and successes, hostile turf wars, media accusations of quackery, political challenges, and cutting-edge technical advances reveal to the reader just what it takes to be a game-changer in one of the world's most harrowing professions.
Revered by patients, residents, and fellows for his highly personal approach to teaching and mentorship, and for his example of life balance, in this book Dr. Sonntag also shares stories of his youth as a German immigrant in Cold War America that lend insight into how, with humility, sacrifice, honesty, compassion, industry—and humor—an individual can overcome adversity and achieve the American Dream.