“How to be an Irrepressible Surgeon” was UMC’s Dr. Peter Rhee‘s topic of today’s speech at the Asian American Faculty, Staff & Alumni Association (AAFSAA) annual luncheon at the Tucson Marriott University Park Hotel.
He showed a slide show of his beginning in Seoul, Korea (up to age 5), then a move to Uganda near Kenya where his father worked as a surgeon, then to Europe, and ultimately the United States (high school in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, college at Georgia Institute of Technology, then Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences medical school).
Dr. Rhee has been at UMC for 3.5 years and his current research now focuses on suspended animation, resusitation, topical hemostatics (how to stop bleeding).
He is Professor of Surgery at University Medical Center (Molecular Cellular Biology), Director of the Division of Trauma Critical Care & Emergency Surgery there, and a retired US Navy Captain. He lives in Tucson with his wife and two children. More UMC bio info (click here).
This amazing trauma surgeon has worked at “M.A.S.H.-like” surgical units in Afghanistan and Iraq, and can actually sleep at night. Some of the photos he showed us of his experiences as a military surgeon overseas were extremely grisly and bloody, but realistic of the war battles.
And Dr. Rhee is probably most famous for being the emergency room doctor at UMC on January 8, 2011 when ten wounded gunshot individuals were brought there, including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and her two aides Ron Barber and Pam Simon. He was providing candid daily updates for over 2 weeks, and accompanied the Congresswoman & her family to Houston, Texas when she was moved there to a rehabilitation hospital on January 21.
The luncheon benefited AAFSAA scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islander students, many of whom were in the audience. AAFSAA President Dr. Ted Tong (College of Pharmacy) served as MC for the event and introduced Dr. Rhee. Mrs. Adrian Shelton, UA President Robert Shelton’s wife was at this luncheon, as well as members of Congresswoman Giffords’ staff. About 400 people were there today including faculty, staff, alumni, students and community supporters.
The Asian American Faculty, Staff and Alumni Association (AAFSAA) was established in 1989 at the University of Arizona to support and recognize the achievements and interests of Asian American faculty, staff, alumni, and students. It is the mission of AAFSAA to develop partnerships between UA organizations and community business, professional, and service organizations to promote the academic, intellectual, and cultural needs and interests of the UA community and its broader constituency and to foster greater understanding and appreciation of Asian or Pacific American traditions and heritages.
Dr. Rhee also was selected to be the Grand Marshall at the March 12 St.Patrick’s Day parade here in Tucson (click here for blog).
By the way the definition of “irrepressible” (I had to look it up and so said Dr Rhee) is:
“not able to be controlled or restrained”. Dr. Rhee’s amazingly strong character as a surgeon to handle the most horrible, traumatic war injuries/accidents/shootings etc. is a testament of that word. He showed us a slide today of a young man/patient with his face blown off by a gun, and also told us that one day in Iraq his medical unit received 6 badly wounded soldiers and 11 of their 12 legs had to be amputated.