Medicine in Translation
Medicine in Translation
Journeys with My Patients
Beacon Press, Hardcover, 9780807073209, 256pp.
Publication Date: January 2010
For two decades, Dr. Danielle Ofri has cared for patients at Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in the country and a crossroads for the world's cultures. In Medicine in Translation, she introduces us, in vivid, moving portraits, to the patients she has known. They have braved language barriers, religious and racial divides, and the emotional and practical difficulties of exile in order to access quality health care. Sharing their journeys with them over the years, Danielle has witnessed some of their best and worst moments, and come to admire their resilience and courageous spirit.
Danielle introduces us to her patients: Samuel Nwanko, who was brutally attacked by a Nigerian cult in his homeland and is attempting to create a new life in America; Jade Collier, an Aussie who refuses to let a small thing like a wheelchair keep her from being a homegrown ambassador to New York City; Julia Barquero, a Guatemalan woman who migrated to the States to save her disabled son but cannot obtain the lifesaving heart transplant she needs because she is undocumented. We meet a young Muslim woman threatened at knifepoint for wearing her veil, and the spitfire Señora Estrella, one of Danielle's many Spanish-speaking patients, whose torrent of words helps seal Danielle's resolve to improve her own Spanish, an essential skill in today's urban hospitals. And so she, her husband, and their two young children and seventy-five-pound dog relocate to Costa Rica, where they discover potholes the size of their New York City apartment, a casual absence of street signs or even street names, tangy green-skinned limon dulce dangling in the playground, and sudden rains surging over the craggy edges of roadside ditches. Ultimately, Danielle experiences being a patient in a foreign country when she gives birth to their third child, a "Costarricense" girl.
With controversy over immigrants in our society escalating, and debate surrounding health-care reform becoming increasingly urgent, Ofri's riveting stories about her patients could not be more timely. Living and dying in the foreign country we call home, they have much to teach us about the American way, in sickness and in health.
Danielle Ofri is an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital and the cofounder and editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her previous books are Singular Intimacies (Beacon / 7251-6 / $18.00 pb) and Incidental Findings(Beacon / 7267-7 / $15.00 pb). Ofri writes frequently for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN.com, and other publications.
“Danielle Ofri is a finely gifted writer, a born storyteller as well as a born physician.”—Oliver Sacks, MD, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
“A gifted storyteller, Ofri provides vivid details that bring readers right into the exam room with her . . . describing how her patients’ histories stirred her to practice medicine more compassionately, inspired her with their hope and fortitude.”─Sarah Halzack, Washington Post
“Danielle Ofri’s new work presents the reader with artfully controlled chaos. . . . Brisk, fast-paced, and organized with an eye both to variety and recurrence.”─Rachel Hadas, Times Literary Supplement
“Her writing tumbles forth with color and emotion. She demonstrates an ear for dialogue, a humility about the limits of her medical training, and an extraordinary capacity to be touched by human suffering.”—Jan Gardner, Boston Globe