Saturday 21 Jul 2018 | 13:45 | SYDNEY
Saturday 21 Jul 2018 | 13:45 | SYDNEY

A surgeon at war


Fergus Hanson


25 May 2010 15:21

I am joining Jim Molan in highly recommending Craig Jurisevic's new book, Blood On My Hands. I finished it last week and managed to catch his compelling talk on Saturday.

At almost every turn of the page Jurisevic smacks up against impossible choices and ends up pushing firmly against what many would consider the limits of moral and ethical boundaries — and not just medical ones. The reader is given a first-hand account of his actions and their consequences, which end up presenting a compelling case for what he does.

What sets Jurisevic's book apart from others in this genre is that he decides to act. In many other first-hand accounts of humanitarian tragedies, like those in Rwanda or Srebrenica, the foreign author is placed in a position where the rules prevent them from acting.

They do their best to fight against the rules, but ultimately they stand down. But you are left with a strong impression that they still wonder what would have happened if they had disobeyed and acted on their instincts.

Jurisevic is held back by a number of factors — including a young child and new wife back in Australia — let alone likely opprobrium from the Australian Medical Association.

His story is really about the consequences of taking that risk. By no means is every decision is a winner: his actions result in some people dying and very nearly himself. Yet he is operating in a world — more specifically a cave on the front line — that is a long way from ideals and laboratory conditions.

This book will make you think.