Paging Dr. Cavadas

As an American, I often find myself relieved to be in Europe. Especially during those times when my country seems to lose its shit — for example, the current health care debate, which has descended into incoherent madness. “Obama is a Hitlahr! Y’all is socialisms! Stay away from my liberty, Nazi!”

Although the suggestion always invites that charming brand of “Shut-Up-We-Are-The-Best” scorn, Americans would do well to look at European health care. Any advanced society (let alone the world’s most wealthy) has the moral duty to provide medical care to all its members. It need not result in lower standards, as most Americans seem to fear. Today, for example, health care in Valencia is making headlines for all the right reasons.

Valencia is lucky to be home to one of the world’s most famous surgeons. Dr. Pedro Cavadas has made a name for himself with risky and pioneering surgeries — such as one where he put someone’s left hand on their right one. This summer, he returned from Africa (where he was doing pro bono work) to his normal post at Valencia’s main hospital, La Fe. The reason for his return was to direct and perform Spain’s first face transplant. The operation finished successfully yesterday, after 15 and a half hours.

It’s heartening to be living in a country that can meet its obligations to all its citizens, and still be at the forefront of innovation and excellence. Maybe one day, my home land will make it there too.

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