Thursday, April 23, 2015

Heroes You Should Know: Megan Coffee

When a catastrophic earthquake devastated much of Haiti on January 12, 2010, Dr. Megan Coffee, an infectious disease specialist headed there to help.

Tuberculosis is easily treated and contained in the first-world.  But in a country like Haiti, where few get prompt and adequate medical care, it spreads like wildfire and kills like a weapon of mass destruction.  And as thousands of patients were thrown together after the earthquake, the danger of a TB epidemic was great.

So, amidst the rubble, with a tent serving as her hospital, Coffee went to work.  That was four years ago…and she’s still there. 

Coffee has gathered a grateful group of local volunteers---many of whom survived Tuberculosis because of her---to help administer care to the seemingly endless flow of infected men, women and children.  When she realized that her money alone wouldn’t suffice, the good doctor had to become adept at raising money through donations to help pay for the medical care the hospital can’t or won’t cover.

And for all of this, the Harvard-educated physician and Oxford-educated epidemiologist gave up a research position at Berkeley, and does not receive a salary.

Megan admits that her family and friends still think she’s a little crazy for making this career choice.  What Coffee thinks is crazy is that some people are making a big deal about her.  Haiti has become her home, and the infected, contagious, suffering patients her brothers and sisters.

What’s so hard to believe about that?

Megan Coffee is a hero you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.

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