The-spirit-of-the-heart“Life imitates art” ~ Ismael Nuño

I had the joy last week of speaking with former leading cardiac surgeon Dr. Ismael Nuño about his book, The Spirit of the Heart: Stories of Family, Hope, Loss, and Healing, his life as a surgeon and his life today.

The Spirit of the Heart: Stories of Family, Hope, Loss, and Healing  is a collection of heart-warming stories that resonate at the core of our humanness. Fixing “broken” hearts gave Dr. Nuño a unique and intimate view into the power of the heart. Over the years he learned that even while coming face to face with death and losing patients, there is a beauty that can exist, even in loss. Dr. Nuño graciously offers the insights he has gained from occupying a front-row seat at some of life’s most real and raw moments. Part memoir, part self-help – these tender stories teach us about what it means to be human, to be connected to others, to love, to live, to forgive.- from the book.

The death of his daughter Catherine at 18 years of age was the inspiration for the book.

” I wrote the book The Spirit of the Heart to put on paper the journey of humans that travel through the farewell of another human being, of a  loved one.  I wanted to leave a legacy of love, tenderness and a record that once a beautiful young girl walked amongst us.”

When I first started to read this book I thought it was going to be a “bit medical” for me. What I found was a man who I discovered at 5 years of age had decided he was going to fix hearts. The stories in this book show true compassion, a total dedication to his profession and lots of spirit. There is joy, triumph and humor, along with sadness, loss and healing. The 41 stories are short and inspiring and stand alone.

Ismael is a doctor who pushed the boundaries and his surgical technique changed one day after he went to the movies and saw the film “The Doctor” with William Hurt. He saw Hurt pushing the envelope and thought I can do that. He then tried some of the “wild” things he had seen on the screen and he changed his methods. Today he advises the script writers at ABC Studios Hollywood on shows such as Grey’s Anatomy.

Listen to the light hearted interview and be uplifted

Download MP3  27 mins

Here is Ismael in the white coat that he used to put on each day and he still sees each morning in he wardrobe that he spoke about in the interview.

Dr ismael Nuno

This is a book that will possibly raise many questions, it will inspire, give you moments of sadness, others of pure joy. You will get an insight into a very passionate human being who before he even knew what a heart was decided he was going to fix hearts. Ismael Nuño has made a difference in his life and the lives of others and from talking with him and reading on his website he is still creating ripples of change.

He is a Change Warrior and may have inspired the revival of this series. 

Dr. Nuño was born in Mexico. He obtained his MD in 1976. He received training in General Surgery and subsequently in Cardio-Thoracic surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. Dr. Nuño was in the US Army for a period of ten years. He was Deputy Commander for 5th MASH during the Gulf War. The last 15 years of his career were as Chief of Cardiac Surgery at LAC+USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.He is now retired and lives in Marina del Rey, California./

You can read more about Ismael on his website and buy the book at Amazon /

Be Love

Suzie Cheel

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Thanks to Rebecca Brown of  The Cadence Group for asking me to review the book

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25 Responses

  1. Thanks for the great review. What a wonderful way to honor the memory of his daughter and help others in the process. I too have lost many loved ones and through that process have a very different outlook on death than most people.

  2. Thanks for sharing Dr. Nuño’s inspiring work and story. I agree with others here, the book sounds very interesting. Will definitely take a closer look.

  3. This book sounds like one that my mother would really like. Maybe a summer reading gift for her. Thanks for sharing. The very best finds are always the ones people are talking about with each other.

  4. Suzie, I love you accent. I am glad that I pressed play and listened to the interview v just reading about the book. I cannot imagine losing a child and I commend this heart doctor channeling his pain and love for her in encouraging people at a time of deep sorrow. His daughter sounds very much like my own. My daughter once saved her food while we were at a restaurant for a homeless man outside. She is 7 now and an angel. These are the stories that help immortalize the beauty of our life and make it worth it despite the heartaches we experience when the flame burns out. Thanks for this beautiful share.

  5. We are culturally taught in so many ways that death is a “loss” yes it is inevitable. I prefer to look at it as a time of celebration for the unique gifts we each brought to the world. I look forward to the interview- downloading for during my walk, thanks, Suzie!

    1. Hi Jill,
      Like you i see it the way you do as a celebration, we all have gifts that we have shared with the world. Enjoy the interview- it was a delight for me to meet Ismael
      Namaste ♥♥

  6. Hi Suzie,

    This sounds like a beautiful book–I will have to check it out! It reminds me of a book that I’ve been wanting to read called Erasing Death, which is about the experiences of people who are revived after they’ve died in the hospital. I realize this book is about something very different, but I find these kinds of books interesting, nevertheless–will have to add it to my list!


  7. This sounds like an amazing book Suzie…and maybe a place to find comfort as we often think of death as something so final and scary…I sometimes catch myself thinking about death and I don’t let my mind go there at all…I find a way to switch my thoughts and think about something else. I am wondering if that’s wrong?

    1. yes Nathalie it is a great book that looks at various aspects of death- or a time to celebrate a life well lived.
      Maybe having seen the death of my mother and been with my father when he died has helped me have no fear of death. Alos having had 2 NDEs myself too
      Namaste xxoo

    1. Hi Judy,
      Yes I was surprised at how moved i was by many of the stories. yes as you say exploring death and grief with an open mind and heart is such a gift.and Ismael does it so well.

  8. What an honorable and compassionate space. The journey to Transition is one we rarely speak of and should receive more honor and attention. Thank you for your writing!

  9. I will look into this book. I love that he helps the writers for doctor shows!! What a fun way to put your smarts to work! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Great read. I have dealt with an unfortunate amount of loss the last few years so this hit home.

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