D.R.T.: The extraordinary path I took as a child from Haiti, the poorest country of the Western Hemisphere and the difficulties I had to overcome in becoming a transplant surgeon in a field dominated by white males. I should also mention my frequent talks with children, particularly minority youths who were trying to decide their own career choices, was also a motivator. It is important that they know that a career such as mine, while incredibly demanding both in terms of the preparation and the sheer amount of work, is also exciting, rewarding, and within their grasps.
The enthusiastic response to my talks on the need to dedicate oneself to study and to helping others convinced me that there is a wide audience for a book of my life and life work. I believe the parents of young children can find encouragement to lead their children to work hard, in school, at home, and appropriate extra curricula activities in order to avoid the violence and destructive behavior that are plaguing so many of our communities today.
My husband Michael realized that I had an inspiring story to share. Initially, I did not see this for I had been leading the Liver Transplant Service for only three years and I did not feel seasoned enough as a transplant Surgeon. I felt that I had not helped enough patients and wanted to focus on improving the survival rates of my patients and their grafts. I agreed with Michael when he reiterated that the purpose of the book was to inspire parents and educators to motivate their children to study hard and aspire to their inner dreams. Thus the audience for the book is people in general, not just surgeons and their patients, although they could relate intimately to some of the specific medical cases described in the text. The book is a joy to read, funny and sad at times and no technical unknown medical jargon.
D.R.T.: Sharing with people from all walks of life who are facing significant challenges in their lives, to find a way to transform that challenge into a golden opportunity to grow. As human nature would have it, we see challenges as stumbling blocks. Missing from that equation is the fact that these challenges are often essential to our personal, emotional, and spiritual growth, and if addresses appropriately, can be key determinants of our success in the world.
Rejection is an ideal example. When we are rejected in the world, we will recover only as we began to realize that we must hold on to our sense of who we are and not be defeated by outside evaluations. We must break away from what we learned from so much formal schooling. We must finally turn inward and find self-esteem and value that could not, and did not have to be graded pass or fail by the world.
I hope my story will strengthen the determination of anyone with a dream, anyone faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, be they perceived by outsiders or by him or herself. I want to reach those in our community afflicted by different forms of fear, be they fear of an upcoming surgical procedure, or fear of trying to succeed, and indeed fear of success itself. I hope to encourage anyone who dares to challenge the barriers that confront them as they pursue their dreams. In reading "Never Question The Miracles, A Surgeon's Story", one becomes aware of the miracles of transplantation and the thrills and mysteriesof the world of hi-tech surgery and medicine (as in the popular TV series, ER, but much more realistic). This is indeed amidst a very warm human touch and personalities.
D.R.T. There is a certain magic in most ancient traditions, specifically in the power of the mind and our connectedness as human beings to the supernatural and to spiritual world. It is believed that if we are truly connected to Divinity that we can accomplish anything that we set our minds to do. We could go beyond the here-and-now to find helpers, spirits and ancestors, to aid us in achieving our goal. Most ancient traditions believe in life after death, in the power of dreams, in the psychical world. There is a strong family bond and an extended family structure, which is essential and very beneficial for the mental and emotional development of children and their sense of security, confidence and sense of connectedness.
I remembered when I graduated from medical school, I did not appreciate the importance of this milestone for my life, my family, or my people. When my entire family traveled from across the US and from Haiti to commemorate this occasion, I became so much aware of it. When in my dream, I saw my grand- father, Papa Moise who had died decades earlier, alive and well and congratulating me for being the first physician in his family, I felt blessed and became even more inspired to tackle my next step in my quest to practice medicine.
That next year, the internship year in general surgery, was the second most difficult year in my training career, second only to the first year as a Transplant Surgery Fellow. The memory of Papa Moise's visit soothed the sharp edges for these years and many more. Papa Moise was a devoted Catholic whose tradition was everyone assembles daily at 9 PM in his large courtyard for the night's prayer. At the tender age of 6, I did not appreciate this intrusion in the most exciting play-hour of my summer day. I have not been able to gather my family and friends for daily prayers but now more than ever, I realize that to be successful, one needs to learn how to be silent, communicate with the Inner Still Voice from within each of us. Whatever mechanism will allow us to slow down and stop our thoughts at least twice a day, should be pursued, be it meditation, yoga or communing with nature. Therein lies our greatest source of love, creativity, peace and happiness, resulting in spiritual, emotional and physical healing.
D.R.T.: When I look into this voodoo priest eyes at the age of 7, I realized that he knew much more than I did and maybe much more than I ever would know. He seems to hold the knowledge and power of the entire Universe in his glance. He ignited my enthusiasm in achieving this goal of becoming a surgeon. That prediction molded my determination and protected me from the many obstacles that I had to face in my journey to become the first black female director of a liver transplant service in the world. A journey worth reading, funny and sad, as the human drama always is!
D.R.T.: When I realized that I could be the best transplant surgeon the world, yet the outcome or well being of my patient on the operating table was not entirely up to me. It was up to God first, the patient and his or her circumstances second, and then my surgical team and me. This thought me a great lesson in humility. It also forced me to realize that I was merely an instrument of God. I achieved tremendous results in the survival of my patients and their transplanted organs because of my quest to be atoned with the Creator.
Some key milestones are: · Achieving better than expected survival rates for my patients, · Being the lead of the first functioning Liver Transplant Service in the Washington Metropolitan area, · Being the chief Surgeon in the first two combined liver and kidney transplant center in the Washington Metropolitan area, · Being the first Black woman Director of a liver transplant Service in the world.
D.R.T.: As soon as Michael convinced me, of the great need for this book, we wrote letters to about 60 agents throughout the US. We received about 20 responses and one was from a Christian Scientist agent who stated she liked the idea but could not represent me because of her religion, but since we had mentioned the need for a writer, she knew of one who might be interested in the project. Toni Santoniello, my writer, traveled from New York, where he lives to DC and we liked him very much. As one reads my book, one realizes that Toni is a fantastic writer, keeping us forever in suspense as life, medicine and surgery always are. After the preliminary writing steps, he was able to find us an agent within one week, who then found us a publisher by the end of the following week. It was like a miracle!
I was getting ready for the Transplant Clinic when this Agent whom I had neither met nor talked to before called to say that a publisher was in DC to see her daughter and loved the book idea and wanted to meet me in an hour or two. We did. It went well. During the next hour while I was seeing patients, the same agent called and uttered the incredible news that the book was sold and an offer for the advance payment was on the table. I was simply ecstatic. A true miracle was unfolding in front of my very eyes, just like the many miracles in the book itself.
D.R.T.: Yes. I am excited about my next book on Holistic Health and Healing. I feel that as a people we need to empower ourselves with knowledge of ancient & traditional methods of healing to prevent diseases, and to improve our present state of health. Western Medicine is powerful in diagnosing and treating acute diseases. If one is having a heart attack or 'the big one', it is vital to go to the ER of the nearest hospital and have a physician inject this powerful, $4,000 Western drug in your vein to immediately resume delivery of vital Oxygen and other nutrients to your heart muscles before they and you die. This is life saving. For traumatic injuries, cancer and end-stage organ & tissue diseases, Western Medicine, although in its infancy when compared to traditional medicine, is great. For disease prevention, maintenance of great health, for detoxification, and for many other diseases, each of us must empower ourselves to learn natural, ancient and effective ways to achieve these in our own homes, in the way we live, and the choices we make. We must improve our diet, exercise on a regular basis, learn about and take great herbs and do our Spiritual Work in addition to our daily grind. I am looking forward to presenting this book to one of the mainstream publisher in the near future.
D.R.T.: First and foremost, they ought to secure an attorney who is well versed in the publishing industry to facilitate the contractual process. It is imperative that authors stress the importance of the book's promotion by mainstream publishers. In other words pick at least 9 to 12 cities where most of your audiences reside and outline in the contract that publishers will front the cost of this very essential book tour and promotion. For no matter how good your work of art is, if there is no promotion, no one will know about it or be able to enjoy it except a few of your closest friends, acquaintances, and family members. Ensure that publishers pay for promotion of the book in all their available channels, such as African-American Book Connection, which is available free to all African American Bookstores Owners and their patrons. Ensure that the role of the book agent to promote the book is clearly outlined in his or her contract. By the way these were the cons! Or better yet, how to turn the cons into pros or to avoid the cons!
The best thing about mainstream publishers is their widespread distribution channel. Even a bookstore in Nowhere, USA could get your book within the week for an interested reader. The major bookstores in most cities carry your book without you or your agent ever speaking to the book buyers.