Daktari: A Surgeon's Adventures with the Flying Doctors of East Africa
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 and urban poor, 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 operating in nine African countries 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. 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.
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