Some things may be common between surgeons and actors (“What do surgeons & actors have in common?” Open Page, July 17) but I am not sure if actors have the same dedication as some surgeons I know.
I am a paediatric oncologist. I once requested a neurosurgeon to operate on an eight-year-old who had a tumour pressing his spinal cord. He saw the child around midnight, started the surgery an hour later, and saved the boy's legs from being permanently paralysed. When I thanked him for performing the surgery in the middle of the night, he said: “For you and me, it is one night's sleep; for the boy, it his whole life.” A year later, I had a four-month-old patient with a liver tumour. He was bleeding heavily and we needed a liver surgeon to be on stand-by just in case the infant needed emergency surgery. A young and skilled liver surgeon cancelled his trip to an annual conference to be available. When I thanked him, his answer was: “Annual conferences take place every year. But this young boy has only one chance.”