Another non-fiction review for all you readers out there. Again, I’d highly recommend this one! I was kindly gifted War Doctor by Picador Books via the Swansea Bloggers Collective in March.
David Nott in my eyes is a hero, this medical memoir is both eye opening and sobering, he clearly cares so much about humanity and the rights of the people who may otherwise be forgotten or ignored. Just a truly amazing book about a trauma surgeon on the front line.
“For more than twenty-five years, David Nott has taken unpaid leave from his job as a general and vascular surgeon with the NHS to volunteer in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones. From Sarajevo under siege in 1993, to clandestine hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, he has carried out life-saving operations and field surgery in the most challenging conditions, and with none of the resources of a major London teaching hospital.
The conflicts he has worked in form a chronology of twenty-first century combat: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur, Congo, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Gaza and Syria. But he has also volunteered in areas blighted by natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal.
Driven both by compassion and passion, the desire to help others and the thrill of extreme personal danger, he is now widely acknowledged to be the most experienced trauma surgeon in the world. But as time has gone on, David Nott began to realize that flying into a catastrophe – whether war or natural disaster – was not enough. Doctors on the ground needed to learn how to treat the appalling injuries that war inflicts upon its victims. Since 2015, the foundation he set up with his wife, Elly, has disseminated the knowledge he has gained, training other doctors in the art of saving lives threatened by bombs and bullets.
War Doctor is his extraordinary story.“
Immediately I was blown away by David Nott and his passion to provide individuals within some of the world’s most dangerous conflict zones proper medical care, while risking his life to do so. Whereas most of us chose to unconsciously, and sometimes consciously avoid even thinking about the destruction going on around the world, especially the death toll of that destruction. David has risked his life several times over to make sure that everyone who needs it is protected, treated and given the chance to live. He compares this human right to a child; if you saw a child seriously hurt themselves would you walk away? No, you’d help the best that you can. This is David Nott in a nut shell, unsung hero of people who would otherwise be alone and / or dead.
The basis of War Doctor is to tell story of David Nott’s journey through his time as a front line trauma surgeon. We are taken on a time travelling expedition from his time as a young consultant in the early 1990s to his many visits to conflict zones, including Yemen, Libya and his expedition to Syria three times by 2012. He has said that these trips have been the most extraordinarily fulfilling, frustrating and dangerous of all trips and my gosh does this book take you on a bumpy journey as of why.
We learn that the Syrian medical system was one of the main causes for extremist type protests across the country, how people would be inhumanly killed by snipers if they were injured or dared help those injured. How something we may take for granted, especially the strained NHS make a us realise how damn lucky we are that we aren’t being murdered in the street. It was so jaw droppingly shocking how even minor injuries are treated! It broke my heart, completely. I would have been on the first plane out of any of the zones with my tail between my legs several times over, the deadly events that David Nott experienced are mind boggling, some threatened blowing off his limbs, nearly removed and kept hostage by Jihadi fighters for taking a picture of the sunset! Not only did he endure dangerous situations, but situations that were both disgusting and adrenaline pumping. An example of a case is that of a young lad who had to have heart surgery, when a sudden black out occurred which left David holding the boys vena cava to keep check on his pulse. sobering!
This book will have your jaw on the floor, with occasional tears, it is certainly not for the faint hearted! I’d describe David Nott as a hybrid between Martin Kemp and Bear Grylls of the surgeon world! – I read the whole thing wide eyed, it’s high up the shock value scale – this book is heartbreaking, raw and dark -all the things we as a society choose to ignore is happening every second around the world. Doesn’t scrimp on the horrible, shocking details – life during, between and after – how his experiences affected him – including the brutality of humanity. These events may be topic of conversation at times but for these victims, survivors, medical staff etc. treating bombings, violent attacks and chemical attacks are everyday very real things that became embedded into their memories and lives.
I highly, HIGHLY recommend War Doctor to those who like to dabble, or just plain love to read medical non – fiction!
David Nott has been able to use these negative life experiences to create something, somewhat, positive. Himself and his wife begun The David Nott Foundation. This is a UK based charity that provides surgeons and professionals with the skills that they need to provide relief and assistance in conflict and natural disaster zones world wide. You can find out more about it here.
To keep up to date with information about David Nott and the David Not Foundation, you can follow them on Twitter here!