An evening with Danielle Ofri
Tuesday, February 23, 2010, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco
discussing the subject of her new book
Medicine in Translation: Journeys with My Patients
published by Beacon Press
For two decades, Dr. Danielle Ofri has cared for patients at Bellevue, the oldest public hospital in the country and a crossroads for the world's cultures. In Medicine in Translation, she introduces us, in vivid, moving portraits, to the patients she has known. They have braved language barriers, religious and racial divides, and the emotional and practical difficulties of exile in order to access quality health care. Sharing their journeys with them over the years, Danielle has witnessed some of their best and worst moments, and come to admire their resilience and courageous spirit.
Dr. Ofri introduces us to her patients: Samuel Nwanko, who was brutally attacked by a Nigerian cult in his homeland and is attempting to create a new life in America; Jade Collier, an Aussie who refuses to let a small thing like a wheelchair keep her from being a homegrown ambassador to New York City; Julia Barquero, a Guatemalan woman who migrated to the States to save her disabled son but cannot obtain the lifesaving heart transplant she needs because she is undocumented. We meet a young Muslim woman threatened at knifepoint for wearing her veil, and the spitfire Señora Estrella, one of Danielle's many Spanish-speaking patients, whose torrent of words helps seal Danielle's resolve to improve her own Spanish, an essential skill in today's urban hospitals. And so she, her husband, and their two young children and seventy-five-pound dog relocate to Costa Rica, where they discover potholes the size of their New York City apartment, a casual absence of street signs or even street names, tangy green-skinned limon dulce dangling in the playground, and sudden rains surging over the craggy edges of roadside ditches. Ultimately, Danielle experiences being a patient in a foreign country when she gives birth to their third child, a "Costarricense" girl. With controversy over immigrants in our society escalating, and debate surrounding health-care reform becoming increasingly urgent, Ofri’s riveting stories about her patients could not be more timely. Living and dying in the foreign country we call home, they have much to teach us about the American way, in sickness and in health.
"Her vivid and moving prose enriches the mind and turns the heart. We are privileged to journey with her."
—Jerome Groopman, author of How Doctors Think
"Danielle Ofri is a finely gifted writer, a born storyteller as well as a born physician."
—Oliver Sacks, MD, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
"Danielle Ofri stands observing at the crossroads of the remarkable lives that intersect at Bellevue. She is dogged, perceptive, unafraid, and willing to probe her own motives as well as those of others."
—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone and My Own Country
"Her writing tumbles forth with color and emotion. She demonstrates an ear for dialogue, a humility about the limits of her medical training, and an extraordinary capacity to be touched by human suffering."
—Jan Gardner, Boston Globe