My father-in-law, Professor Marc de Leval, is one of the greatest heart surgeons of his generation. For nearly five decades he has changed the course of his profession with his extraordinary double gift of an exquisite craft in the surgery itself (his patients are tiny children, so this is even more astonishing) and a restless, creative mind that has always searched for new knowledge and new ways of doing things.
One evening I was at the intensive care unit at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, where Marc worked for most of his career. The mother of a tiny and desperately sick baby he had saved with an extraordinarily difficult operation rose from the bedside to greet him as he made his rounds at the end of the day.In her exhausted eyes was a look of indescribable gratitude that I will never forget. It was at that moment that I understood what it meant to make a difference.
I’m no heart surgeon and I know that in my whole working life I will only be able to make the tiniest part of the impact he has made. It is an impossible challenge. But I don’t feel daunted. I am inspired.