The View From My Seat

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A Grave Responsibility

Philip S. Chua, M.D.

Surgeons, in many instances, following a referral from a colleague, meet for the first time the patient they will perform surgery on the following day or two, or at a later scheduled time. The faith generated by those first few moments during the initial rapport must be so potent as to make a person place his life in the hands of an individual he barely knows.

This phenomenon of supreme trust, faith, and acquiescence has always overwhelmed my being, and humbled my person, whenever I see a patient on a cardiovascular surgery consultation. What other privilege accorded mortals in this world could even come close to this right and power bestowed upon us physicians and surgeons?

To hold the life of a fellow human being in your hands and be the master of his fate only lucidly and indelibly underscores how we, physicians, must hold inviolate our Oath of Hippocrates. Being a physician, vested with the power to heal and, many times, over life and death situations, is indeed awesome, and a grave responsibility. To minimize the seriousness of our obligations to our patients is not only illegal, unethical and immoral but is tantamount to irreverence to God's own image.

As we minister to the sick each day, we, physicians, should be ever-mindful that entrusted to our care are precious and priceless creations of The Almighty, patients who are human beings, whose profound faith in us alone is in itself indubitably deserving of no less than our very best.

Are We, Humans, Really Civilize? (Or, Are We For the Birds?)

I was driving to work one early morning from Munster, Indiana, going east on US-30, when I noticed a flock of Canada geese flying against a beautiful backdrop of a golden orange rising sun that was eagerly peering over the clear horizon. The picturesque scene was even more poignant as I observed that the geese were flying in a perfect reversed V-formation. One seemed to be the leader of the pack, at the very apex, and the rest, in an orderly fashion followed in a reversed V-formation. At one point, another goose flew ahead and assumed the "leadership" at the apex of the V. When the "leader" got tired, another flew to the apex, the former "leader" went behind the flank. They seemed to each take turn. Everything was smooth and easy flying, and quite orderly.

The reason came back to me as I recalled a book I once read. Birds, in general, have the instinct to know that the wind they fly against offers most aerodynamic resistance if they fly alone or on a straight frontal line. Flying in a reversed V-formation, with the apex cutting through the headwind, makes it a lot easier for the others behind to fly. The "leader" at the apex gets the most wind resistance, works the hardest, and less and lesser for those behind, who are "sheltered" by the birds in front of them. And all of this appears to take place in an organized fashion, with no hesitation, no delays, no bickering, no pushing, no wrangling, as if each bird knew precisely its individual role, and was graciously compliant of the order of the flock.

How I wish we, humans, self-proclaimed the most civilize and most intelligent of all creatures on the planet earth, would be as "civilize, compassionate, considerate, and orderly"` as these birds. Imagine how wonderful it would be if we, brothers and sisters of the world, would stop fighting, hurting, destroying and killing each other, and instead, understand, accept, help and protect each other like these flying creatures of God. What a wonderful world it would be!

Obviously, the transformation will not be easy, as the history of man has shown us so far from our original primitive ancestors in caves to our self-proclaimed civilized fellowmen in the high-rise complexes of the cement jungle in today's society. But we, human beings, better start soon, even a little bit each day, each month, each year, or each century, before we blow each other up, together with Mother Earth, into shameful particles, bits and pieces, of abominable historical ashes in the galaxy. The only legacy our species will leave behind then will be our Homo Sapiens stupidity..

The Uninvited Celebrant

Philip S. Chua, M.D., FACS, FPCS is past president of the Society of Philippine Surgeons in America and former editor (1975-1997), now Editor Emeritus, of The Philippine Surgeon. He is the Chairman of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Cebu Doctors' University Hospital, in Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines, and Vice-President for Far East Operations of the Cardiovascular Hospitals of America, a hospital builder based in Wichita, Kansas ( Email:

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The View From My Seat

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