If you enjoy reading true stories about the extraordinary lives of real people, we received a new book this week that you should check out. I had to Survive: How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired my Calling to Save Lives tells the story of the author, Dr. Roberto Canessa, and the experience that changed his life.

Dr. Canessa was a second year medical student when the plane carrying his rugby team crashed in the Andes Mountains. He and the others who survived the crash were injured and stranded on a remote, freezing mountain. He realized how lucky he was to be alive and did everything possible to help his fellow survivors fight their injuries, the cold, and near starvation. When it became apparent that any possible rescuers had given up on them and death seemed certain, Canessa and a friend began the long trek down the hostile mountain to find help. Against all odds, they managed to reach people who were able to rescue the few survivors.

Canessa went on to become one of the world’s leading pediatric cardiologists. He draws a parallel between his work diagnosing and treating complex heart problems with the difficult life-changing decisions he was forced to make during that traumatic time. His story shows how perseverance and determination can overcome the worst situations.