A London transplant surgeon and professor of surgery at Western University is one of the latest Canadians to be a recipient of the Order of Canada.
Dr. Vivian McAlister has an impressive resume as a transplant surgeon at the London Health Sciences Centre and professor of surgery at the University of Western Ontario, but it’s his work as a surgeon with Canadian Armed Forces helping bring soldiers home safe that’s getting him recognized.
Dr. McAlister is one of 61 people being appointed to the Order of Canada by Governor General of Canada Julie Payette on Wednesday.
In 2006, Dr. McAlister was teaching at Western when a former student who had joined the military gave a presentation about what was happening to soldiers in the war in Afghanistan.
“We were in a difficult situation because we had soldiers in Afghanistan who were being targeted and who were becoming inured,” Dr. McAlister told Global News.
From there he enlisted as a civilian surgeon doing multiple tours to the Middle East and even Haiti with the Canadian military after the 2010 earthquake.
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“I had such a privileged life as a surgeon I regarded it as my duty,” he said.
“Surgeons have to be right behind the soldiers when they get injured to give them the best chance to get home.”
According to the Canadian Medical Association, at 52 he started basic training and joined the Canadian Forces Health Services (CFHS) as a combat surgeon.
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“In Afghanistan, in the midst of facing the physical and mental demands of surgery, Dr. McAlister was instrumental in developing trauma protocols to make patient care as accurate and fast as possible,” the Canadian Medical Association wrote.
“This work was critical because of the need to address the catastrophic injuries caused by anti-personnel improvised explosive devices (IEDs).”
However, when talking about his accomplishments Dr. McAlister is quick to point out his time with the Canadian military saving lives has been a privilege.
“I regard it as a privilege, not one that deserves an award, my privilege was to be there and be apart of these fascistic teams.”
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