After growing up in suburban New York, Oristano moved to Texas in 1970 to attend Texas Christian University. A major in Mass Communications, Mark was hired by WFAA-TV in 1973 as a sports reporter, the start of a 30-year career covering the NFL and professional sports.
Mark has worked with notable broadcasters including Verne Lundquist, Oprah Winfrey and as a sportscaster for the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network and Houston Oilers Radio Network. He has covered Super Bowls and other major sports events throughout his career. He was part of Ron Chapman’s legendary morning show on KVIL-FM in Dallas for nearly 20 years.
In 2002 Oristano left broadcasting to pursue his creative interests, starting a portrait photography business and becoming involved in theater including summer productions with Shakespeare Dallas. He follows his daughter Stacey’s film career who has appeared in such shows as Friday Night Lights and Bunheads.
A veteran stage actor in Dallas, Mark Oristano was writer and performer for the acclaimed one-man show “And Crown Thy Good: A True Story of 9/11.”
Oristano authored his first book, A Sportscaster’s Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America’s Favorite Game. A Sportcaster’s Guide offers inside tips about how to watch football, including stories from Oristano’s 30-year NFL career, a look at offense, defense and special teams, and cool things to say during the game to sound like a real fan.
In 2016 Oristano finished his second book, Surgeon’s Story, a true story about a surgeon that takes readers inside the operating room during open heart surgery. His second book is described as a story of dedication, talent, training, caring, resilience, guts and love.
In 1997, Mark began volunteering at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, working in the day surgery recovery room. It was at Children’s that Mark got to know Kristine Guleserian, MD, first to discuss baseball, and later, to learn about the physiology, biology, and mystery of the human heart. That friendship led to a joint book project, Surgeon’s Story, about Kristine’s life and career.
Mark is married and has two adult children and two grandchildren.
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What is it like to hold the beating heart of a two-day old child in your hand? What is it like to counsel distraught parents as they make some of the most difficult decisions of their lives?
Noted pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Kristine Guleserian has opened up her OR, and her career, to author Mark Oristano to create Surgeon’s Story - Inside OR-6 With a top Pediatric Heart Surgeon.
Dr. Guleserian’s life, training and work are discussed in detail, framed around the incredibly dramatic story of a heart transplant operation for a two-year old girl whose own heart was rapidly dying. Author Mark Oristano takes readers inside the operating room to get a first-hand look at pediatric heart surgeries most doctors in America would never attempt.
That’s because Dr. Guleserian is recognized as one of the top pediatric heart surgeons in America, one of a very few who have performed a transplant on a one-week old baby. Dr. Guleserian (Goo-liss-AIR-ee-yan) provided her expertise, and Oristano furnished his writing skills, to produce A Surgeon’s Story.
As preparation to write this stirring book, Oristano spent hours inside the operating room at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas watching Guleserian perform actual surgeries that each day were life or death experiences. Readers will be with Dr. Guleserian on her rounds, meeting with parents, or in the Operating Room for a heart transplant.
Oristano is successful sportscaster and photographer and has made several appearances on stage as an actor. He wrote his first book A Sportscaster’s Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America’s Favorite Game, and continues to volunteer at Children’s Medical Center.
“We hear a lot about malpractice and failures in medical care,” says Oristanto, “but I want my readers to know that parts of the American health care system work brilliantly. And our health care system will work even better if more young women would enter science and medicine and experience the type of success Dr. Guleserian has attained.”
Readers will find all the drama, intensity, humor and compassion that they enjoy in their favorite fictionalized medical TV drama, but the actual accounts in Surgeon’s Story are even more compelling. One of the key characters in the book is 2-year-old Rylynn who was born with an often fatal disorder called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and was successfully treated by Dr. Guleserian.
Watch the Book Trailer at YouTube.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Thanks for this interview, Mark. Can we begin by having you tell us about yourself from a writer’s standpoint?
I’ve been a writer since age 16. Newspapers, magazines, radio, tv, books. You’d think my fingers would be more tired.
When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?
I’m a veteran stage actor in Dallas, drama and musical. I have a small photography business. And I do lectures on cruise ships.
Congratulations on your new book! Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?
by Mark Oristano
To see a human heart beating inside a chest is astonishing. I’d seen one in the OR before but from a distance, standing behind the anesthesiologist. This was my first time observing a transplant. It was a teenage boy. His diseased heart was removed and placed in a small dish, put aside for later study by pathologists.
I always try to walk carefully when I’m in the OR because I’m terrified of tripping over something, or getting in somebody’s way and screwing up the operation. This time I walked slowly, carefully, over to the dish. I got my first close look at a human heart, only inches away.
And it moved.
The heart was trying to pump blood that wasn’t there around the body to which it was no longer attached. The heart didn’t want to die. It pulsed about once every 30 seconds for the next ten minutes, before finally resting.
March, 2010. I was finishing up my weekly Tuesday afternoon volunteer shift at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas when Dr. Kristine Guleserian, pediatric heart surgeon, stopped me in the hallway. Dr. G is five feet tall, but “diminutive” isn’t a term to apply to her. A thick head of dark black hair frames sharp, probing eyes and highlights the features of her Armenian heritage, the hair finally falling in waves over her white lab coat. Her speech has an insistence that compels you to listen.
“We’re transplanting today at four. It’s going to be an interesting one. You might want to come and observe.”
So… a quick text to my wife to tell her I’d miss dinner, then a change into surgical scrubs, followed by some food to prep for a long evening. (Come on… if you were offered a chance to watch a heart transplant, wouldn’t you go?) Four hours later, things were starting to heat up in Operating Room 6.
Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing? Can you tell us about your journey?
It was rocky because when you’re working with a heart surgeon, scheduling becomes almost impossible. We probably had 50 interview or edit sessions postponed because the surgeon had to operate on a kid.
If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?
It’s the closest you’ll get into heart surgery without being really, really sick.
What makes your book stand out from the rest?
This is not the story of the prototypical, ego-driven, god-complex surgeon. This is about an ordinary woman with an extraordinary skill set.
If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?
Valentine’s Day. Hearts! Duh!
Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?
What’s next for you?
Mark Oristano is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!
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