Best Book Publishers UK | Austin Macauley Publishers

By: Rob Niven

A Life of Breath

Pages: 368 Ratings:
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Jamie is a respiratory doctor working on the front line. After 12 months without catching the illness himself, he finally gets infected from an unlikely source.

He struggles to come to terms with his own first experiences of the breathlessness that has been the focus of his working life. He also has to reflect on his own potential mortality. Neither are a comfortable ride.

He has had a hugely successful 35-year career, which has taken him to the very top of his specialist field. At the same time, we meet the shy, gauche, and naïve first year doctor, who could never imagine, the achievements ahead. We read the disastrous, humorous, and unbelievable escapades, which mould his career, whilst realising that a successful personal life does not necessarily match, that of the career

The author believes the public has fallen out of love with their medical professionals and in writing this part biography, part fictional account of one doctor’s story, he hopes to put this right. You should laugh, cry and cringe in approximately equal doses, but you might not be able to look your own doctor squarely in the eye, with quite the same perspective, again.

Rob Niven qualified from St Andrews and Manchester Universities in Medicine. He spent most of his medical career in Manchester, with a brief sojourn in Leicester. After becoming a consultant and specialising initially in Occupational Lung Disease, he developed the first Severe Asthma Service in the North West, but against the national norm, with support from so many regional colleagues, he encouraged the development of a regional network of self-supporting colleagues, delivering care to patients with the severest forms of asthma. Some still see it as a model for the delivery of specialist care.


He became known for developing or progressing a number of novel medical innovations and concepts, publishing 150 scientific medical papers, chapters and educational programmes.


Later he worked with SIGN and the British Thoracic Society, to modernise the National Guidelines for the Management of Asthma.


Having planned a period of easing down into retirement on a part time contract, the pandemic blocked these plans and he spent the first 15 months working full time on the front-line for respiratory admissions.


Retirement to the Isle of Arran, beckoned however, from where the planned series are inspired by Colin Douglas who wrote books on medical life in the 1980s, as well as the spirituality and serenity of the island and the desire to have a new challenge. Encumbered by a late diagnosed of dyslexia, which explained much of his academic limitation, with writing being the hardest challenge.



Rob considers himself one of the most fortunate souls alive, to have done a career, which he loved and to have survived long enough to have an opportunity to write about the funny, the sad and the sometimes gross reality of life in hospitals over the last forty years.

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