Not unlike modern geneticists, surgeons in the '60s who raced to be the first to transplant a human heart faced as-yet-unheard-of ethical concerns. They risked murder charges for removing a beating human heart from a brain-dead patient, hunted alleys for stray cats, and experimented on puppies to perfect the procedure that would extend thousands of lives. Donald McRae masterfully dissects the brutal compassion of four brilliant rivals on the cusp of history in Every Second Counts. Even squeamish readers will come to see sawed-open chest cavities through the cool, detached eyes of a surgeon and appreciate the saying ''If you're going to be a heart surgeon you've got to remember one thing. The blood on the floor is not your own.''