A Surgeon in the Village : An American Doctor Teaches Brain Surgery in Africa
Overview - An inspiring story of doctors who changed the health care of an African nation Dr. Dilan Ellegala arrives in Tanzania, shocked to find the entire country has just three brain surgeons for its population of forty-two million. Haydom Lutheran Hospital lacks even the most basic surgical tools, not even a saw to open a patient's skull. Read more...
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More About A Surgeon in the Village by Tony Bartelme; Catharina Hoek-Ellegala
An inspiring story of doctors who changed the health care of an African nation
Dr. Dilan Ellegala arrives in Tanzania, shocked to find the entire country has just three brain surgeons for its population of forty-two million. Haydom Lutheran Hospital lacks even the most basic surgical tools, not even a saw to open a patient's skull. Here, people with head injuries or brain tumors heal on their own or die. When confronted with a villager suffering from a severe head trauma, Dilan buys a tree saw from a farmer, sterilizes it, and then uses it to save the man's life.
Yet Dilan realizes that there are far too many neurosurgery patients for one person to save, and of course he will soon be leaving Tanzania. He needs to teach someone his skills. He identifies a potential student in Emmanuel Mayegga, a stubborn assistant medical officer who grew up in a mud hut. Though Mayegga has no medical degree, Dilan sees that Mayegga has the dexterity, intelligence, and determination to do brain surgery. Over six months, he teaches Mayegga how to remove tumors and treat hydrocephalus. And then, perhaps more important, Dilan teaches Mayegga how to pass on his newfound skills. Mayegga teaches a second Tanzanian, who teaches a third. It's a case of teach-a-man-to-fish meets brain surgery.
As he guides these Tanzanians to do things they never thought possible, Dilan challenges the Western medical establishment to do more than send vacationing doctors on short-term medical missions. He discovers solutions that could transform health care for two billion people across the world. A Surgeon in the Village
is the incredible and riveting account of one man's push to "train-forward"--to change our approach to aid and medical training before more lives are needlessly lost. His story is a testament to the transformational power of teaching and the ever-present potential for change. As many as seventeen million people die every year because of a shortage of surgeons, more than die from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Dilan Ellegala and other visionaries are boldly proposing ways of saving lives.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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At a time when so many nations lack proper medical care, Bartelme, the senior projects reporter for the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., tells the story of courageous Dr. Dilan Ellegala, a talented Harvard-trained neurosurgeon, who seeks to bring meaning to his life with compassionate outreach. Bartelme takes the reader on the humanistic journey of the Sri Lanka native in his arduous medical school training, his grinding rotations of performing delicate operations in a New York facility, and his challenging decision to take a position at an understaffed missionary hospital in Tanzania. Some of the segments in the biography are quite clinical in their graphic depictions of the history of brain medicine and the current procedures. The doctor explains the brain surgeons view: You were touching a persons past and dreams, everything a person is and would be. Tanzania has only three neurosurgeons for 43 million people, so Ellegala begins an effective training program with young medical workers in a new group, Madaktari, thats designed to prepare doctors to serve in the global health crisis. Noting the shortage of surgeons, Bartelme writes knowingly of the dedication of a valiant doctor determined to change how modern medicine interacts with the world. (Mar.)