Surgery carries more individual responsibility than any other field of medicine. Jonathan Kaplan studied medicine in South Africa and, after working in a black township and being drafted by the South African army, he chose exile rather than serve the apartheid state.
He travelled the globe in search of sanctuary, experiencing riots, tropical fevers, political upheaval and a jungle search for a lost friend. Kaplan landed eventually in Angola and took charge of a combat zone hospital, the only surgeon for 160,000 civilians, where he was exposed daily to the horrors of war.
As a volunteer surgeon in Baghdad, he treated civilian casualties amid gunfights for control of hospitals, gangs of AK-47 wielding looters stripping pharmacies, and militant Shi’a groups harassing doctors out of operating rooms.