Skip to content
Wellons brings high-stakes drama of...

Wellons brings high-stakes drama of operating room to life in book

By: Susan Marquez - August 16, 2023

Dr. Jay Wellons will be signing copies of his book at the Book Festival’s book signing tent at 12:15pm and will sit on the Career Memoir panel session at 1:30pm in State Capitol room 204.

The literary lawn party that is the Mississippi Book Festival is scheduled to take place August 19 at the Mississippi State Capitol building. It’s an opportunity for readers to hear their favorite authors up close and personal, as well as to discover new authors. 

One of the genres represented at the festival is creative nonfiction, true stories told in a compelling way. There is hardly anything more compelling than a surgeon telling stories about his work with patients. When those patients are children, and the doctor s is a pediatric neurosurgeon, the stories become even more compelling. 

Published in June 2022, Dr. Wellons’ book, All That Moves Us: A Pediatric Neurosurgeon, His Young Patients, and Their Stories of Grace and Resilience (Random House) explores his work with the medical minefield of the brain. Wellons says there is no such thing as a non-urgent brain surgery when it comes to kids. Surgery to remove tumors or repair ruptured vascular malformations is tricky at best. A single millimeter in every direction can affect that which makes us essentially human. “Every day presents the challenge, and the opportunity, to give a news lease on life to a child for whom nothing is yet fully determined and the possibilities still exist.” 

The book gives readers a behind-the-scenes view of the haunting complications, the harrowing close calls, as well as the moving triumphs that color the day in the life of a pediatric neurosurgeon. Wellons brings the high-stakes drama of the operating room to life with both transparency and compassion. Many of those tense moments shaped him as a doctor, and as a parent. It’s both an honor and a challenge for Wellons to be the only hope for the patients whose lives are in his hands. In All That Moves Us, Wellons reflects on lessons learned over his twenty-five years and thousands of operations, many on some of the most vulnerable patients.

Wellons grew up as the son of a military pilot. He received a B.A. in English from the University of Mississippi in 1991, his medical degree from University of Mississippi Medical School in 1995  before completing his Master of Science in Public Health in Clinical Research (Epidemiology) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He completed his residence in Neurosurgery at Duke University Medical Center as well as a fellowship in stroke research there. He also completed a fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital of Alabama. 

He currently serves as Professor of Neurological Surgery at Vanderbilt in Nashville, where he is also the Chief of Pediatric Neurological Surgery and Professor of Pediatrics. His extensive medical training prepared him to treat the brave children whose lives he works to save. All That Moves Us profiles children on the threshold between life and death, like the little boy with a gunshot wound to the head who arrived at the hospital near death. Sometimes the children aren’t born yet, like the fetus that Wellons performed spinal cord surgery on in utero. While the drama of a busy children’s hospital swirls around him, Wellons is challenged daily to keep his wits about him. The book has been described as “a meditation on the marvel of life as seen from under the white-hot lights of the operating room.” 

A seasoned writer, Wellons has served on the editorial board of the Journal on Neurosurgery – Pediatrics. In addition to his scientific writing, he has been a contributor to the New York Times Sunday Review, TIME, Garden and Gun Magazine, Fresh Air: NPR, and His non-scientific writing focuses specifically on his specialty of pediatric neurosurgery, but also the broader field of medicine and the profound lessons learned from the children and parents that he has cared for over the last 25 years.

Dr. Jay Wellons will be signing copies of his book at the Book Festival’s book signing tent at 12:15 and will sit on the Career Memoir panel session at 1:30pm in State Capitol room 204. 

About the Author(s)
author profile image

Susan Marquez

Susan Marquez serves as Magnolia Tribune's Culture Editor. Since 2001, Susan Marquez has been writing about people, places, spaces, events, music, businesses, food, and travel. The things that make life interesting. A prolific writer, Susan has written over 3,000 pieces for a wide variety of publications.
Previous Story
Next Story
Culture  |  Robert St. John  • 
August 18, 2023

A Good Foot Forward