19 August 2012

'Medicine in Translation: Journeys with My Patients', by Danielle Ofri

In "Medicine in Translation: Journeys with My Patients", Dr. Danielle Ofri retells the remarkable stories of about a dozen of her patients. Dr. Ofri is an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, the nation's first public hospital. Dr. Ofri's stories are about moving to a new country: her patients are immigrants who are trying to maintain their identity in the American melting pot. One patient was left horribly disfigured by a politically-motivated attack in his home country. Another needs a heart transplant but cannot obtain one because of her undocumented status. They persevere in the face of tremendous obstacles.

Dr. Ofri tries to bridge the cultural and language barriers that separate her from her patients. She decides to become an immigrant of sorts: she relocates her family to Costa Rica for a year as a break from medicine and as a way of acquainting herself with the culture and language of some of her Hispanic patients.

It is a touching little book. Dr. Ofri cares for her patients and cares about them, too. Her writing captures how she learns from her patients and uses their example to better herself.