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Waikato Hospital anaesthetist has book published

Waikato Hospital anaesthetist Aidan O’Donnell has written a book about the “bewildering specialty” that is anaesthesiology.

The book, entitled Anaesthesia: A very short introduction is not a textbook, but is aimed at students who want to know more about anaesthetics and lay people who may be about to undergo an anaesthetic.

“It’s not clinical work, it’s for a general readership,” says Dr O’Donnell, who was originally going to be a neurologist, but had to train in general medicine first and didn’t enjoy it.

He saw a vacancy advertised in anaesthetics and applied.

“It turned out to be the best decision I ever made, other than coming to New Zealand,” says the 40-year-old Scottish-born doctor.

“I really loved it and it suited me down to the ground.”

As a consultant anaesthetist and medical writer with a special interest in anaesthesia for childbirth, Dr O’Donnell is more than qualified to share his knowledge in his first ever book.

He says anaesthesia is “a bewildering specialty” for most people and not well understood, so he decided to write a book on the subject, which was published by Oxford University Press earlier this month.

The book looks at what anaesthetists do; how anaesthesia works, the risks, and how anaesthetists know if their patients are really asleep.

Dr O’Donnell begins by explaining general anaesthesia: what it is, how it is produced, and how it differs from natural sleep and other forms of unconsciousness.

He goes on to consider the main categories of anaesthetic drugs, including anaesthetic vapours, intravenous agents, muscle relaxants, and analgesics, together with explanations of how they work and what their purpose is.

Set against the historical background of anaesthetic and surgical practice, Dr O’Donnell examines the large role anaesthetists play in specialised areas such as intensive care medicine, pain medicine, and childbirth; and finally, he considers the risks of anaesthesia, putting into context that anaesthesia is a very safe process.

Dr O’Donnell was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Anaesthetists in 2002 and a Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists in 2011.


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