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Exhale is the riveting memoir of a top transplant doctor who rode the emotional rollercoaster of saving and losing lives—until it was time to step back and reassess his own life.

A young father with a rare form of lung cancer who has been turned down for a transplant by several hospitals. A kid who was considered not “smart enough” to be worthy of a transplant. A young mother dying on the waiting list in front of her two small children. A father losing his oldest daughter after a transplant goes awry. The nights waiting for donor lungs to become available, understanding that someone needed to die so that another patient could live.

These are some of the stories in Exhale, a memoir about Dr. Weill’s ten years spent directing the lung transplant program at Stanford. Through these stories, he shows not only the miracle of transplantation, but also how it is a very human endeavor performed by people with strengths and weaknesses, powerful attributes, and profound flaws. 

Exhale is an inside look at the world of high-stakes medicine, complete with the decisions that are confronted, the mistakes that are made, and the story of a transplant doctor’s slow recognition that he needed to step away from the front lines. This book is an exploration of holding on too tight, of losing one’s way, and of the power of another kind of decision—to leave behind everything for a fresh start.

David Weill is the former Director of the Center for Advanced Lung Disease and the Lung Transplant Program at Stanford. He is currently the Principal of Weill Consulting Group, which focuses on improving the delivery of transplant care.

Dr. Weill’s writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Salon, Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, STAT, and the Washington Post. He also has been interviewed on CNN and by the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Wall Street Journal.

He lives with his wife and two daughters in New Orleans.

  • Publisher: Post Hill Press (July 28, 2021)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781642937602

“Maturing from a hard-driving transplant doctor into a more compassionate clinician who finally allows himself to feel the anguish of the patients and their family, Dr. Weill finds he must confront his own unrelenting focus on treatment success. This is a riveting read.” ?—Laurence M. Westreich, M.D, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine 

 "Exhale" should be read by every doctor—and by anyone—who stays up too late and works too much –Philip C. Breen, MD, PhD (father of Dr. Lorna Breen) 

“Exhale" is a compelling exploration of the beguiling world of transplantation. David Weill cranks up the hood to show us the engine—the stunning technological wizardry and the towering human dedication, as well as the oil-stained innards of profit and ego. You won’t look at your lungs in the same way again! –Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, author of "When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error.”

David Weill gives us a glimpse of the volatile and intense world of a transplant doctor, where split-second decisions can make the difference between life and death. “EXHALE” is a captivating story about the courage and also the toll it takes to work at this rarified level of medicine. –Daphne Merkin, author of 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love

With great clarity, David Weill captures the euphoria and intoxication of saving a life, alongside the brutal anguish of losing one and the lifelong trauma of burnout that ensues thereafter.  A must read for everyone, including those who have lost themselves in who they're being for everyone else. –Juliette Watt, Compassion Fatigue expert, TEDx Speaker.

"The crowning achievement of Weill’s memoir is that its deepest messages are truly universal. We need to examine the effects of workplace cultures that award badges of honor for jam-packed schedules and long overtime hours. Everyone from high-level executives to stay-at-home moms like myself can appreciate how our busy-ness and distractions keep us from being present with those we love." –Beth Bailey, TheFederalist.com