Jeffery Simpson, a senior at Ave Maria University, recently invited students on campus to attend his Resident Assistant project entitled “Faith, Surgery and Socialized Healthcare.” The event featured speaker Dr. Lazarou, who traveled from Athens, Greece to address Ave Maria students in the lecture hall.
Lazarou is an exceptional, but humble doctor. His skills, deep appreciation for all human life, and ability to marry his faith to his work always benefit his patients. Any other surgeon equipped with twenty years of experience, a degree from John Hopkins University, the University of Maryland Medical School, a three-year residency program in plastic and reconstructive surgery at a top ten program in Norfolk, and a fellowship at the University of Pittsburg would surely be a boastful, wealthy man. That is not the case with Lazarou.
He opened his talk by humbly stating that he has “no employees, no records” and that he is unaware which patients have paid or have yet to pay him for his services. If his methods sound unconventional, it’s because they are. He does not operate in accordance with the societal norm, but through “the Eucharist.” Dr. Lazarou’s “experience of Him who is love,” has become his “personal law of daily life.” With Christ as his compass, his professional life is geared towards forging intimate relationships with his patients, rather than attaining wealth.
Dr. Lazarou’s private practice operates in Greece, where there is no private insurance; patients directly pay doctors in cash. Lazarou notes that there is a “different dynamic when discussing payment directly with a patient face-to-face.” This interaction is why he does not hold his patients to an exact amount for a cleft lip procedure, for example. Rather, he simply states “give me what you can.” Dr. Lazarou smiles slightly noting that he is sometimes paid in chicken or fish.
His nonexistent desire for monetary gain points to one of his deeper truths: an understanding of the intrinsic dignity of all life, including that of the unborn. He recounts a particular consultation with a distraught husband and pregnant mother whose baby had been diagnosed with a cleft lip. The husband exclaimed “tell me if this kid is going to be happy because we have to make a decision today!” Lazarou calmly replied “if you think the meaning of life is happiness you’re going to kill a lot of people in your life.” A few months later the couple named their healthy child after Dr. Lazarou. This serves as just one of the countless instances in which Lazarou offers Christ’s truth to his patients firmly, but free of judgement.
“All of these things I say to you as a father to his children,” states Lazarou, as the presentation draws to a close. He goes on to encourage the group to “guard your hearts” even in the medicinal field, in which the pursuit of money blinds many. He emphasizes the importance of giving one’s heart to none but the Lord. Finally, Dr. Lazarou leaves the students gathered within the hall one final thought: “medicine is a means to manifest our love for one another, not to serve the law- the person in front of you is what matters.”
By: Johnnie Eagan, ’20