Michael Wood (doctor)

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Sir Michael Wood was born on the January 28, 1918 in the United Kingdom. He studied medicine, and in 1943 he qualified as a surgeon and soon after was married to Susan Buxton.

Susan’s deep-rooted interest in Africa after spending her early life in Belgian Congo finally pushed the move of the young Wood family, then with two children, to East Africa. They arrived at the port of Mombasa in 1946. With the help of Gerald Anderson, Michael Wood established himself as General Surgeon in East Africa. Soon he found he was regularly being called to emergencies beyond the confines of the city of Nairobi. Often he had to charter flights to remote locations where no hospitals existed. The number of these emergencies escalated and became a challenge. Mindful of what lay ahead, Michael learnt to fly.

In 1954, Michael went to England on a Marks Plastic Surgery Fellowship with Archibald McIndoe . Together with Dr. Thomas Rees, an American surgeon (also a beneficiary of the Marks Plastic Surgery Fellowship), they would develop the idea of the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) [1] and its Flying Doctors Service.

The needs for fundraising for AMREF were very demanding from the word go, which Michael Wood undertook tirelessly. This involved him taking breaks from his work in Africa to solicit funds in Europe and North America. His fundraising trips brought him into contact with famous people: the Aga Khan IV, Vice-President Richard Nixon, as well as David Rockefeller.

Sister Breege Breslin, one of the Medical Missionaries of Mary who is proud to have worked with Sir Michael Wood on many occasions as his theatre nurse, said, that it was his faith and his determination to help ease a situation that made him the ‘Legend’ he is. Sister Breege said during a recent interview that even after long hours of surgery with very little daylight left for him to fly back to base, Sir Michael Wood would always take the time to see one last patient.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1972 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in the Bush country of Southern Kenya.

In 1970, he was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for services to Africa and later in 1985 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. In 1986, he was given the Raoul Wallenburg Award for Humanity.

Michael Wood retired from being Director General of AMREF in 1985 and soon afterwards went on to establish Farm Africa (Food and Agricultural Research Mission). In May 1987 Michael died of cancer at his home in Nairobi, Kenya.

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