Thursday, March 01, 2007

Mountain Gorillas: Doctor's Diary

Dr. Bill Frist, the former U.S. Senate majority leader, is an accomplished heart and lung transplant surgeon who trained at Stanford University and was among those who pioneered heart transplants.
Dr. Frist is back in Africa, traveling with his wife, Karyn, and Franklin Graham, the president of Samaritan's Purse, and is blogging for
Part 8 of Dr. Frist's blog for is an interesting essay entitled A Visit With Gorillas.
Gorillas move and, indeed, they had moved quickly in the direction away from us all morning. They travel in families, and the Susa family is the largest and most interesting of the habituated gorillas in the Virunga mountain ranges that bridge the juncture of Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

So we visited them — and what a memorable visit it was.

I’d traveled to these remote regions of Rwanda in the heart of Africa for three specific reasons: to continue my longstanding study of the gorilla heart; to enrich my understanding of the potential of disease transmission between animal and man (HIV, SARS, Avian flu); and to further expand the concept of “medicine as a currency for peace” using a unique “one health” approach being pioneered by a group of veterinarians who were connecting health of a gorilla-centered ecosystem with health of a poor population that had been ravaged by genocide just a decade before.
The article features several of photographs of Dr. Frist and his wife on their expedition, and also a short video featurette about their work in there.

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