Book review: I Had to Survive: How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired My Calling to Save Lives

Book review:  I Had to Survive: How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired My Calling to Save Lives gives this book a rating of 4.7 out of 5 and there is no wonder why, an excellent emotive read about a Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed into the high Andes in 1972 and the survivors who ate the remains of their fellow teammates to live. 

This is a tear-jerking recollection of the harrowing brink-of-death experience that propelled survivor Roberto Canessa, a second-year medical student at the time, to become one of the world’s leading pediatric cardiologists.  As the starving group struggled beyond the limits of what seemed possible, Canessa played a key role in safeguarding his fellow survivors, eventually trekking with fellow survivor Fernando Parrado across the hostile mountain range for help.  This fine line between life and death became the catalyst for the rest of his life.

Canessa, also draws a unique and fascinating parallel between his work as a doctor performing arduous heart surgeries on infants and unborn babies and the difficult life-changing decisions he was forced to make in the Andes. With grace and humanity, Canessa prompts us to ask ourselves: What do you do when all the odds are stacked against you?

The story is one of endurance, and love, drawing parallels between the black and white, pragmatic approach of his father who thought they all were dead, and the hope and confidence of his mother – who knew they were still alive. This life skill that his mother taught him, that anything is possible, is what eventually gets him off the mountain!    This book will make you realise that anything is possible when you put your mind and passion into it. 

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