May 11, 2017, 11:00 AM, Posted by Najaf Ahmad
From his Princeton roots to his experiences as a pediatrician, public health practitioner and journalist, Rich Besser shares stories and lessons from a career dedicated to service in this Q&A.
Rich Besser was a fourth-year medical student when he found himself performing his first (and last!) solo emergency Cesarean section at a hospital tucked within a rural Himalayan village in Manali, India.
He had come to Lady Willingdon Hospital eager to learn about health problems facing people within the developing world, and worked under a gifted local surgeon, Dr. George “Laji” Varghese. Providing care for the underserved population there was no small feat. For instance, the power would often go out during surgeries, requiring someone to hold a flashlight over the operating table.
Dr. Laji one day left Rich in charge as he departed for a week-long meeting. Before leaving, as a precaution, he walked Rich through how to perform an emergency Cesarean section since they were high up in the mountains and hours away from the next health care facility.
Sure enough, a few days later a woman who’d struggled through labor for over a day arrived. A senior nurse noted that the baby’s heart didn’t sound good.