In the United States, 50,000 people die each year awaiting a heart transplant and those patients who manage conventional transplant still require treatment with powerful, immuno-compromising medication to prevent rejection for the rest of their lives. Doris Taylor, who has a doctorate in pharmacology and directs the Center for Cardiovascular Repair at the University of Minnesota, has succeeded in using stem cells to create a beating heart. Though the science is still theoretical, Taylor's laboratory findings hold promise for the millions of individuals with heart disease or congenital defects. The book uses biographical details to demonstrate Taylor's childhood curiosity and empathy. Taylor is described as single-handedly sparking interest in the field of cardiac regeneration after early experiments transplanting muscle tissue from the thighs of rabbits into the animals' hearts. Then-existing U.S. regulatory limitations led Taylor to hold human tests, including injection of stem cells into a patient's heart tissue, in Europe.
After her experiments with transplantation and stem cell injection, Taylor began considering scaffolding cell growth. She stripped rat hearts with detergents to provide a three dimensional skeleton of the organ, which eventually began pulsing in and out. Though she has yet to extend the work to create these organs with human hearts, the next phase may utilize pig hearts, which are of a similar size to the human's. The book outlines challenges for women of Taylor's generation who were working in the sciences, as well as the peer review process Taylor must undergo to share her research with the scientific community. In a break from existing regenerative medical experiments, Taylor demonstrated that, instead of building three-dimensional organs from scratch, it is possible to use a recycled biological structure.