Crossing Paths by Paolo Montalto, MD



Intima, a Journal of Narrative Medicine

“Organ transplantation always results in a crossing of paths: there is a life that ends and another that regains vital energy: hours of anguish and despair on the one hand, of apprehension and joy on the other. A cruel but inevitable crossing.”

These are the words of Dr. Paolo Montalto, a gastroenterologist who graduated from the University of Florence’s Medical School after studying at the Hepatobiliary Unit of the Free Hospital in London. His dual-language book, Crossing Paths, in Italian and English, has short chapters that are evocative glimpses into his world, each one giving the reader the narrative of his medical education and early life. It’s an inventive, often inspiring, prose patchwork of different voices, which includes his own musings about hospital life and becoming a doctor, asides about his personal life, as well as poems from patients and even a letter to his mentors who guided him to his specialization. We are brought into his world with generosity and dedication.

While some of the English translation is at times rudimentary, the doctor’s curiosity and attention to the many worlds he inhabits comes alive in each chapter. (A friend who speaks Italian read excerpts and found Dr. Montalto’s writing intelligent and direct.) We get a collage of his life, both personal and professional, that feels like a series of honest glimpses, rather than a charted progress report that builds to a foregone conclusion. full article