A True Global Doctor

When we get sick in a world far from home, it’s certainly reassuring to know that there are locals that can understand us and are willing to help whenever we’re in need.WDTK

More than 17,000 km from China is the place Dr. Hugo Vargas once called home. Born in Bolivia and later moving to Brazil and eventually, Argentina, Vargas had seen a lot before coming to China.

“My older brother is also a doctor and married a Chinese woman while living in China. It was he that originally introduced me to Global Doctor and helped me find the job when I spent two years in Chengdu. I later decided to come back to Argentina to continue my studies,” Dr. Vargas said.

Already a doctor, Vargas headed back to Argentina to change things up for his family, but also to specialize as a thoracic (focused on chest) surgeon.

“I always wanted to be a doctor since I was a young, but there were times when it was difficult. When I was studying surgery after coming back from China, I had two kids and a family to support. I had to study during the weeks and work on the weekends, but I finished it and it was okay,” he explained.

Doctors probably have one of the most challenging paths to certification, which makes it even more amazing that Vargas’ five brothers and sister are all also doctors. Now, one of his daughters living in China also wants to carry on the family legacy.

“Little by little, more Chinese patients are coming to the clinic. I think in the future this number will change a lot. Before, 80 percent of my patients were foreigners and 20 percent were Chinese. Now, it’s becoming the opposite. All of China is like this and healthcare in the country is changing a lot,” he detailed.

“We want my older daughter to go back to Chile to study medicine, but she doesn’t want to leave. She said that she wants to stay in China and study here instead. It seems okay,” he mentioned.

By now, the good doctor has had quite a relationship with China that began more than a decade ago.

“When I first came to China to work in Chengdu 12 years ago, I also went to Dongguan for a visit. That was when the clinic was in the old building and I really liked it at that time. It had many trees and a calm life. That’s why I eventually decided to come back,” he told of a past not too distant.

By now, he has been in Dongguan for three years already. Before that, he spent a year in Shanghai. Of all, he naturally prefers here above all the others.

“Sometimes, you decide to change because you get this stress, and you say, ‘okay, I have this opportunity and though it’s not surgery, it’s calmer and gives a better life.’ Before, I’d leave at seven in the morning and get home at nine at night. I didn’t have any time for my family, only work,” he said with regret.

Being in a much smaller community than Shanghai or Buenos Aires, I wondered if it would be hard to avoid the job and to have free time from patients. Imagine, you have some pain or another and luckily see your doctor on the street. Better to just say hi and make a later appointment, right?

“Many of my patients know where I am and have me on WeChat or WhatsApp and sometimes call me during the night. But they are my patients and I need to help them if they call for me,” he replied.

Over the time he spent in China, much has changed around him—massive construction projects, streets packed with increasing numbers of cars and more and more Western influence flooding into the country. Probably most surprisingly, though, is the rapid growth of Chinese patients coming to his office.

“Little by little, more Chinese patients are coming to the clinic. I think in the future this number will change a lot. Before, 80 percent of my patients were foreigners and 20 percent Chinese. Now, it’s becoming the opposite. All of China is like this and healthcare in the country is changing a lot,” he detailed.

All in all, he seems at ease and pleased to be here, despite being so far from home. Besides the routine visits back to see the family, I wondered if he was often considering relocating his wife and kids to be closer to their roots.

“China really is much safer. South and Central America have a lot of problems going on right now. It’s also good for my kids, who study Mandarin and English here in China and are comfortable. They seem happy and so am I,” he concluded.

After an overloaded life of studies and profession, it’s good to see a person be able to kick back and enjoy the world around him. The future is looking good.

 

Category Who Would Know