Friday, 29 June 2007

Armenian Surgeon Ara Darzi Appointed a Health Minister by British PM Gordon Brown

World famous surgeon of Armenian origin, professor Sir Ara Darzi has been appointed by British PM Gordon Brown a health minister in charge of improving patient care.

Ara Darzi has pioneered innovative work in the development of minimally invasive surgery - the technique that allows surgeons to operate through small incisions.

According to The Times and Wikipedia, professor Darzi, 46, was born in Armenia, other sources suggest that he is from Iraq-born Armenian family. He spent much of his childhood in Ireland. In 2003 he became a British citizen. He was awarded a knighthood in 2003 for his services to medicine and surgery.

As BBC reported, Sir Ara will combine his ministerial duties with his research and clinical commitments, including the supervision of students.

Sir Ara, 47, said: "It is a great honour and privilege to be asked by the Prime Minister to continue that work for patients across the country."

"I am not a politician by profession. My working life has, is and will continue to be centred on patient care."

BBC reminded that Sir Ara is internationally respected for his innovative work in the advancement of minimal invasive surgery and in the development and use of allied technologies including surgical robots and image-guided surgery.

Mr Bernard Ribeiro, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: "I am delighted that a practising surgeon, who deals with patients on a regular basis, has decided to take such a high position.

"It is an opportunity for government to engage directly with the profession."

The prime minister's spokesman said Professor Darzi would work Monday to Thursday as a minister - being paid for three days - and continue to work as an NHS surgeon, unpaid, on Fridays.

Any income from his international private practice will be paid direct to Imperial College to fund research, the spokesman said.

Armenian heritage

The following extract is from the AGBU article published in 2003 by David Zenian:

Dr. Darzi’s father, Vartkes, is a retired civil and structural engineer who was the first Iraq-born Armenian to study at the University of California in Berkeley in the late 1940’s.

The son of a Genocide survivor, Vartkes (Terzian) Darzi settled in Dublin after graduation and started a family in a city which did not even have an Armenian community.

“I used to travel a lot, working in many countries in the Middle East, while Ara and his sister stayed home with my wife. But we were a very close-knit Armenian family and I have raised Ara as an Armenian,” Vartkes Darzi said.

“Unfortunately, we did not have a large circle of Armenian friends, something which I want my son to start doing. I have retired, and London is our home now, and it is such an advantage to be involved with the Armenian community,” he said.

“The reports in the British press said my son Ara is an Irish national. That is correct, but he is also an Armenian, and is the first Armenian to become an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE),” said Vartkes Darzi.

While not involved in things Armenian, Dr. Darzi remains greatly interested in Armenian issues.

Growing up in Dublin, Dr. Darzi’s closest ties to his heritage was through his parents.

But in a recent interview, Dr. Darzi said he would “really like to take my knowledge to Armenia. I would love to visit and do something constructive there.

“I have not had the chance until now, but I hope to get more involved in the coming years. I want to go to my roots. I have served in many countries around the world. Why not also Armenia?” he said.

“I would like to volunteer and even take some essential equipment to Armenia to train other doctors there. All I need is the right opportunity.” he said.