In keeping with my love of nature and unique geographical places, I jump at any opportunity to teach, operate or visit South Africa. The level of neurosurgical care is excellent and some of the most innovative surgeons in history have originated from here….think Christian Barnard and Warwick Peacock. On one of my previous visits to Johannesburg to perform pro bono surgery I came across a young neurosurgeon who impressed me dramatically. He was head of his department in one of the largest public hospitals in one of the poorer sections of the city. He clearly wasn’t in it for the money and he and his beautiful wife, a plastic surgeon in the same institution, worked tirelessly to improve the care to impoverished patients. He was courageous enough to perform keyhole operations that he had learnt by reading my book, Principles and Practice of Keyhole Brain Surgery, without ever seeing it performed by someone else. His results were amazing. I wanted this person as my fellow. Thankfully, he agreed and the rest is history. Chris is a technically gifted surgeon. He has courage, dexterity, good clinical acumen, comprehensive knowledge of the literature and a caring nature. He taught us as much as we taught him and his enthusiastic personality was contagious. He will be a shining light in the field of innovative neurosurgery in his country and I am confident he will make a positive contribution to the overall welfare of both the privileged and impoverished people of South Africa. We wish him, his talented and beautiful wife, Bella, and their young family, the best of luck.
Bledi is quietly spoken and reserved both socially and professionally. I noticed his manner on our first interview and was secretly a little worried that we may not click in both arenas, at work and at play. Within a week of working closely with Bledi, any reservation I had was dispelled. He typifies the expression, still waters run deep. He demonstrated warmth and compassion to all patients but especially those who needed a bit more time to accept post-operative deficits or a terminal diagnosis. He’s a great listener but his paucity of words doesn’t mean he doesn’t contribute to clinical decision making and complex clinical scenarios. On the contrary, when Bledi has something to say, people listen. In the operating room, he showed exceptional dexterity and sound insight into controversial situations.
My running joke with Bledi was that he was the only fellow who refused to reduce his meat intake in deference to my veganism. While I was a little upset with him…. for the animals sake…. it is illustrative of Bledi’s strong personality and conviction….. sad for the animals but comforting for his patients who can be reassured he will be uncompromising in their care.
I really enjoyed my time with Bledi. He was a stable force during some trying times for me personally and professionally. He was fun to be around, incredibly trustworthy and a compassionate clinician. We wish him the best of luck for the future and look forward to hearing great things.