A Surgeon's Adventures With The Flying Doctors of East Africa
By Thomas D. Rees, M.D.
"LAST WEEK came a voice from my past. The great surgeon Tom Rees, no longer bothering with making women beautiful, sent me his book "Daktari: A Surgeon's Adventures with the Flying Doctors of East Africa." This tome, available on Amazon.com, shocks and thrills as philanthropic doctors try to help against dangerous odds, with very little anesthetic and medical supplies. Tom and Nan Rees still have a place in NYC but spend their time mostly in Quogue and Santa Fe. They go to Africa every year. Us long-timers really miss them!" (LIZ SMITH, NEW YORK POST)
"Rees tells his story without boasting and he's got a lot to boast about. It's a story of bravery by a modest man. Touching, suspenseful, everything you want in a book." (PAUL NEWMAN)
"Dr. Rees' book makes his extraordinary life almost as exhilarating to read about as it must be to live. Africa, in all its complexity, comes stunningly to life in this story of great service to mankind and thrilling adventure." (ROBERT REDFORD)
"...reads like an exciting screenplay--but it's all true." (KIRK DOUGLAS)
From PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: "Rees's memoir of his experiences with the Flying Doctors of East Africa, as one of its founders and practitioners, offers a refreshing look at humankind's better nature. In 1956, Rees, along with two other doctors, parlayed his interest in Africa and compassion for others into an effort to provide emergency medical and surgical care for people living in regions of Kenya, Tanzania and other areas where those necessities are rare. The book opens with a graphic yet sympathetic view of Rees's operation on a warrior gutted by a charging rhino, setting the scene for the many challenges the physicians face. The doctors are quite creative in compensating for a lack of proper medical supplies. For instance, scotch and morphine act as a substitute for anesthesia, and ordinary soap baths and vodka serve as antiseptics. While Rees does examine Africa's political transitions, he also delves into the human aspect, depicting how Africans have tried to cope with the ravages of infant mortality, disease, poverty and even practices such as female genital mutilation. Particularly memorable are the stories of the big game hunter who wants a sex change and so starts with breast implants; the warrior who values his cattle over the life of his ailing son; and the young mother whose baby dies of malnutrition because of her aversion to using a glass feeding bottle. Rees has written an unforgettable memoir of courage, empathy and perseverance."
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In 1957 three plastic surgeons--Sir Archibald McIndoe, Dr. Michael Wood, and Dr. Thomas D. Rees, the sole surviving founder--began what was then called “The Flying Doctors Service of Africa.” These surgeons devoted the full measure of their collective time, energy, and creativity to make their vision a reality: to bring specialist surgical care to Africa`s most remote areas and improve the lives of children and families who, through no fault of their own, experience extreme suffering and disfigurement. They were the first to bring reconstructive surgery to East Africa utilizing light airplanes and itinerant surgeons who would use their expertise to treat victims of burns, congenital deformities, trauma, animal bites, cancer, and deformities resulting from endemic tropical diseases.
With experience, and responding to the overwhelming health needs of the rural population, the parameters of what became the Flying Doctor Services of East Africa evolved to include public health, environmental medicine, training and education of health care workers, nomadic health care, and emergency medical response. Today, the Flying Doctors of East Africa through it’s parent organization, the African Medical Research and Education Foundation (AMREF) is the largest indigenous international health development non-governmental organization in sub-Sahara Africa with a full-time staff of over 600, 96% of whom are of African origin. The Flying Doctor Services of East Africa has evacuated over 50,000 emergency patients from the bush to urban hospitals. It has flown over 12 million miles, and performed more than 50,000 major operations.
The dream of the three founding surgeons has become a reality.
THOMAS D. REES, M.D., was born and raised in Utah, the son of a University Professor, and a second generation descendent of Mormon Pioneers. After graduating from the University of Utah Medical School and completing a prestigious fellowship in plastic surgery at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Great Britain, he began a distinguished forty-three year career in New York City as a practicing plastic surgeon, educator, author, and innovator in his field. Since 1957, he has made almost annual trips to East Africa on behalf of the Flying Doctors of East Africa. He is a Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery at New York University School of Medicine, Chairman Emeritus of the Department of Plastic Surgery at the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital, and senior surgeon to the Institute for Reconstructive Surgery.
A frequent lecturer at medical institutions, symposia, and forums all over the World. Dr. Rees is also the author of more than 140 medical articles and six medical texts including the two-volume Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, a classic for doctors-in-training, and More Than Just A Pretty Face (Little Brown), a book for the general public. His many TV appearances include NBC News, "The Early Show," "Live with Regis and Kathy Lee," and ABC`s "Morning Show." He has been an avid aviator, skier, fly fisherman, and horseman. His current passion is sculpting African animals and people. He resides in Quogue, New York, and Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife Nan.
Inside This Book
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