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Dr. David Schnadower: Global Reach

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The first time David Schnadower tried to join Doctors Without Borders, they turned him down; he was only a 20-year-old med student. But as a true citizen of the world -- Schnadower was born in England, grew up in France (his mother's homeland) and Mexico (his father's), married a Cypriot woman, and practiced medicine in challenging locales like Uganda, Chiapas, and Manhattan -- he was destined to team up with the physicians' group eventually. "Where I come from," he says, smoothing back his longish curly hair, "they're extremely popular -- pictures on the back of French cornflakes and such." Schnadower's first real job was as the village doctor in tiny San Lorenzo Malacota in Mexico's Otomi region, where he was the only M.D. for 5,000 people. In 1994, he finally signed on with Doctors Without Borders. In Northern Uganda, Schnadower treated a constant flow of wounded, sick, and malnourished refugees. "They were bombing sites fifteen kilometers away from us," he recalls. The most frightening moment came when 5,000 refugees poured in and he had only twenty beds available: "I had mothers with sick babies streaming towards me, begging for help. I was just this stupid 25-year-old, and I had five minutes to decide who was too sick to save." Now 31 and chief resident at NYU/Bellevue and instructor of pediatrics at NYU, Schnadower plans to help inaugurate NYU's international pediatric track -- a program offering courses in tropical medicine, child/maternal health, and natural-disaster emergency training, culminating with a three-month stay in a Third World country -- in July. "David brings his international experience to everything he does," says NYU colleague Dr. Robert Lawrence. "But he's also a very analytic and creative problem solver in situations where others are stumped, which is what makes him special." Don't count on his being around for long, though. For his next career move, Schnadower is thinking Afghanistan.


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