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Scalpel in the Sand: Memoirs of a Surgeon in Saudi Arabia Paperback – Illustrated, 12 Sep 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: UFT Press; 1 edition (12 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956911900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956911902
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,828,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


In 15 chapters the story begins with the author's arrival in Riyadh in pursuit of advancing a career in surgery after failing to make much headway in the NHS, UK. His time there coincided excitingly with the expansion of medical and surgical care in the country. His work in the provision of surgical services and in research thus took place within the environment of an ultra-modern hospital with state-of -the-art facilities, the Riyadh Military Hospital. He adapted to the very different epidemiology of surgical diseases of an Middle Eastern country providing an interesting insight. At the same time the period of expansion and modernisation gave him the opportunities to participate in innovative and challenging projects. The kidney transplant service achieved international renown; the nutrition support service was the first comprehensive and hospital-wide service in the Middle East; the seminal research of the Riyadh Intensive Care Program caught the medical world s attention. There was also his leading participation in setting up the Major Disaster Response Plan for the King Khaled International Airport which was put to use in the First Gulf War. Of necessity the chapters on his medical/surgical work used medical terminology but there is no medical jargon in the descriptions so that these chapters are not incomprehensible to the lay reader. Besides doctors, surgeons, other medical personnel, and medical students, the ordinary reader may find these parts of the book fascinating as they give an insider look into procedures and practices in modern medicine which many people may now be subject to some time in their lives. The account of a period some twenty years ago is a time capsule when great changes were taking place in Saudi Arabia. The record of the author's close and daily encounters and interaction with the local people, colleagues, students, and patients, from members of the Saudi royal family to the person-on-the-street, provides observations of a way of life and a culture very different from what is familiar in the West. From first settling in and learning the ropes he discovered and took part in a variety of leisure activities in an environment that was culturally new to him. With time he was able to learn in greater depth about the formal and informal lives of the Arabian people. The privilege he had of teaching the first batch of women medical students provided a rare opportunity to make observations at close hand of the issues confronting Saudi women in their struggle for emancipation, their green shoots of success and their continuing problems. Working and living among people of the Muslim faith had dispelled for him some of the widely believed myths about the practices of Islam. He confidently shares an accurate picture with the reader for having witnessed the actual practices first-hand. He presents a view that is contrary to the conventional wisdom of the West. The author hopes that he can help to adjust perceptions that will bridge the gap between the West and the Muslim Arab peoples. Back to Beginnings is a stand-alone chapter at the end of the book which puts the author in context: his family background, growing up in the mixed cultures of colonial Malaya, relocation to the UK, and his medical and surgical training and career there. --Rosa Chang - BA

This book is about the persistence and tenacity of a young surgeon in pursuing his dreams. Against the odds he went to Saudi Arabia to carve out a surgical career. Out there he had the most amazing experiences. He was crazy to go and was crazy to return. He signed up for two years and stayed for ten. He did return in triumph ten years later to the UK to be the Founding Director of a Transplant Centre at a London Teaching Hospital until his retirement in 2009. What is life really like in Saudi Arabia. Is it as bad as it is made out to be? Read stories of enthralling challenges, amusing anecdotes, and empathetic observations of working among a people with a very different culture from that of the UK. This is a book about life, rather than just the surgeon s operating theatre --Helen Mandefield, BSc RGN

René is a great observer of even small details which he transforms into interesting and often exhilarating stories. His communication style is unique and truly enjoyable. René builds bridges between worlds by his stories; genuine reports often twisted with some funny unpredictable nuances; a little like a contemporary Gulliver s Travels, or perhaps life itself. Gianluca Zucchelli - UK based journalist for L Unita, IlSole24Ore, Grazia, La Repubblica, Il Foglio. --Gianluca Zucchelli - UK based journalist

About the Author

Brief CV Name: René Wen Suen Chang Address: 7 College Gardens Dulwich London SE21 7BE Telephone: 081-693-3714 Email: Degrees and Qualifications: BSc (Special) Physiology, King's College, University of London MB BS, Westminster Medical School, University of London F.R.C.S. (England), Royal College of Surgeons (England) Master of Surgery, University of London Awards: Entrance Scholarship to Westminster Medical School Federal Scholarship (Malaysian Government) Bernard Sunley Research Fellowship, RCS (England) Present Appointment: Director, Useful and Fun Things Limited Past Appointments: 1. Founding Director of Transplantation, St George s Hospital, London 2. Lecturer/Senior Registrar, Academic Surgical Unit, St Mary's Hospital, London 3. Consultant Surgeon, Riyadh Military Hospital, Saudi Arabia 4. Clinical Tutor (Postgraduate/undergraduate), King Faisal University, Damman, King Saud University, College of Medicine, Riyadh 5. Consultant Transplant Surgeon, St Helier Hospital, Carshalton, Surrey 6. Scientific Advisor/Consultant to 2nd Consensus Conference of the European Society of Intensive Care, Fujisawa GmbH, Eli Lilly, Hoffman La Roche, Glaxo-Wellcome, Qinetiq, Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre, UK, 7. Chairman, South Thames Transplant Group - 1992-1994 8. Visiting Professor, George Washington University, Washington DC Teaching Experience (Undergraduate and Postgraduate): King s College, Strand, University of London St Bartholomew's, Westminster, St Mary s Hospitals Medical Schools, London, UK King Saud University Medical School, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia King Faisal University Colleges of Medicine, Al Khobar, Damman, Saudi Arabia Conferences and Workshops (Organised): Monthly Nutrition Support Service Workshop 1980-89 International Symposium on Intensive Care. Riyadh 1982 2nd International Middle East Symposium on Organ Transplantation Riyadh, 1984 Nutritional Care of the Critically Ill Patient. International Symposium at Riyadh 1987 Symposium on End-stage Renal Disease and Renal Transplantation at Riyadh 1988 Symposium - Practical Problems in Transplantation, St George s Hospital, London, 1996 Societies: British Transplantation Society British Medical Association Intensive Care Society (U.K.) European Society of Intensive Care Society of Critical Care Medicine American Federation for Clinical Research Publications and presentations: Peer reviewed articles and chapters in books on tumour immunology, renal transplantation, surgical nutrition, surgical audit, intensive care, and disaster response planning. Interviewed by international (Germany, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, USA, Canada), national (UK) and local radio (London, Scotland), television stations (BBC Today, GMTV, BBC News 24, Cologne TV) and newspapers (Times, Independent, Guardian, Telegraph, Evening Standard, Daily and Sunday Express, Daily Mail, Sun, Stern, Frankfurt Zeitung, Straits Times, Sydney Morning Herald). Educational Videos: I scripted, directed, and produced the following educational videos: A day in the life of a Nutrition Support Service. Renal transplantation in Saudi Arabia. Carry On Feeding. Computer Programs: I designed and wrote the following computer software programs:- Editorial Office Manager Version 1.0. 1984. Nutrition Support Service Manager Version 2.0. 1986. Riyadh ICU Program Version 2.30 2004 Renal Data Manager Version 3.0 2009

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