Daktari is a tribute to dedicated people who make their dreams come true through hard work, a passion for helping mankind and focusing on their goals. Tom Rees, a master plastic surgeon, could have lived in the lap of luxury every day of the year but chose to help others in the developing world of Africa. His experiences in forming the Flying Doctors of East Africa, an organization that grew from three founding doctors to a full time staff of over 500 people, is fascinating. Not only did he have adventures as a doctor, but as a pilot. Intrigue, perseverance and skill helped him help Africans better their lives through surgery. He found himself in political situations and in abysmal medical equipment facilities, yet he did what he had to do to get the job done.
I have known Tom Rees, as the chairman of plastic surgery, at Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital. He is a gentleman and always functioned with courtesy and kindness. I never knew he had such moxie till I read the book. His persistence in helping deformed Africans lead a better life is admirable. His style of writing is literarily pleasing and often poetic. “Several dry excavations pockmarked the river floor, mute testimony to the futility of their efforts to find water.” Descriptions of the scenery and the people, as he journeyed toward his destinations, made me feel like I was on a safari in Africa. Details of the political and moral customs and policies gave me food for thought.
I enjoyed reading the adventures of Tom Rees, learning about Africa and its people, listening to the sincere, compassionate ideas he shares with us and closing a book with a feeling of thought, knowledge, hope and the satisfaction of a good read. Good job, Tom
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Dr. Rees has not only lived the kind of life that all of us wish that we could have lived, he has also shown his gratitude for all his good luck by giving back to the world in great measure.The book was really interesting and inspiring.
This book is an easy read, but certain scenes will stay with you long after you’ve put it down. Since 1957, Dr. Rees has made annual trips to East Africa (Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania) with the Flying Doctors of Africa organization.
I picked the book up not so much because of an interest in medicine, but because of a deep love for Kenya and its people. Dr. Rees descriptions of landing in Nairobi, driving to through surrounding countryside whose “plains were dotted with acacias and animal trails criss-crossing the parched earth…” brought back many memories of my trip to Kenya.
If you are interested in medicine, the book will give you a lot to think about in terms of countries with virtually no health care in most areas compared to the United States or other western European countries.
His images will stay with you from the opening chapter and the Maasai gored by a rhino to the young baby with a gangrenous scalp. Images like children with horrendous burns who have had very little medical treatment. “Children, especially those with epilepsy often fell into fires and sustained severe burns which, lacking the proper early care (skin grafting), resulted in massive scar tissue formation.”
Throughout the book you get a sense of the people involved, not only the author and the doctors he worked with, but the people they treat. You’ll find yourself wishing that the book was maybe just a longer, had a few more pages so that you can continue your East African journey with Dr. Rees.