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Surgeon’s odyssey leads to his own Ithaca

“Operations are not for the greater glory and gratification of ambitious and vainglorious surgeons; but for the greater good of the specific patient,» Professor Vassilis Golematis was fond of saying to new surgeons impatient to conduct a major operation. A charismatic teacher, Golematis charmed both students and patients, whom he treated well regardless of their political persuasion, class, race or creed. Today, he is the president of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center and of the Committee for the Rights of Patients. His contribution to the world of medicine has been recognized not only in Greece, but in America, where fellow-doctors unanimously made him, at the beginning of February, an honorary member of the renowned American Surgical Association. He is the first Greek to receive this distinction and one of only 62 surgeons outside the USA who have been so honored. «I’ve always enjoyed reading Homer and the adventures of Odysseus in all editions,» was his reply when asked to say how he felt. «In my own odyssey, this recognition is like coming home to Ithaca.»