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Looking Forwards

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John Dark, MB, FRCS
Freeman Hospital
Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

"North America gripped by Arctic Conditions," "UK set to be lashed by Storm Eleanor" are just two of the headlines (let's ignore politics) to greet the start of the year, with spectacular pictures of a frozen Niagara, metres of snow covering Pennsylvania and dominating avalanche warnings in the Alps. Looking back at 2017, described by a political observer, tongue in cheek as "an unexciting year," it is not only unrewarding, but rather bleak. So, let us look forwards, to some warmth and sun in 2018.

To defrost, the ISHLT will return to Nice in April with the warmth of southern Europe, the blue of the Mediterranean and the aromas of cheese and freshly baked bread. However, not just returning to Nice, but to France, a favourite of all countries- receiving more visitors than any other country in the world. It is centrally located in the western world (although the French would argue the whole world), and we should rejoice our return with the ease of travel.

Along with Louisiana, France gave us the metric system. The French Revolution gave us many ideals - Liberté, égalité and fraternité- behind "Western" democracies from New Zealand to Poland, although historically, we must overlook the guillotine, the Mob, Napoleon and his wars that devastated Europe for 20 years until Waterloo.

French writing holds a huge place - Camus, Sartre and Gide are just three of the record 15 winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, more than any other country. Then there are the celebrated links with U.S. writers; we think of Hemingway in Paris with his contemporaries and F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose "Tender is the Night" has some of the most magical descriptions of the Cote d'Azur. He writes of the "diffused magic of the hot sweet South...the soft-pawed night and the ghostly wash of the Mediterranean far below."

The other obvious influence is in art - there are museums including Chagall and best of all, Matisse, in Nice itself, with Picasso and Renoir nearby. Music, film? I could give you many more examples of key personalities, but some contributions include Lully to Satie, Renoir through Truffaut to Ozon and Bardot to Depardieu. And, of course there was Princess Grace.

When looking at the field of medicine, there are still giants. Jean Dausset, Parisian immunologist, was one of the few who laid the foundation of tissue typing and received a Nobel Laureate in 1980 for his discovery of the HLA. The ISHLT Past President, Christian Cabrol, performed both the first heart and the first heart-lung transplants in Europe, the former 50 years ago. He died in the summer of 2017, and you can read a brief note in the July Links Newsletter, and a fuller appreciation by Jack Copeland in the Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation.

Another star of French surgery was Rene Leriche, a mid-20th century man of huge talent. Every surgical trainee knows of the Leriche Syndrome- but also sobering insight. His famous quote "Every surgeon carries in himself a small cemetery, where from time to time he goes to pray" strikes a chord with all of us.

Rene Lerich

Others will write of the Annual Meeting - it promises to be one of the very best - and the specific delights of Nice. But come also to enjoy France. I end with two more quotes from F. Scott Fitzgerald:

"France has the only two things toward which we drift as we grow older - intelligence and good manners."

And from "Tender is the Night," a novel rather more complex and every bit as good as "The Great Gatsby," when he writes again of the Mediterranean of an evening:

"...above a sea as mysteriously coloured as the agates and cornelians of childhood, green as green milk, blue as laundry water, wine dark."

Disclosure Statement: The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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