The incredible life story of the trauma surgeon who helped save Congresswoman Gabby Giffords—from his upbringing in South Korea and Africa to the gripping dramas he faces in a typical day as a medical genius.
Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is a household name: most people remember that awful day in Arizona in 2011 when she was a victim of an act of violence that left six dead and thirteen wounded. What many people don’t know is that it was Dr. Peter Rhee who played a vital role in her survival.
Born in South Korea, Rhee moved with his family to Uganda where he watched his public health surgeon father remove a spear from a man’s belly—and began his lifelong interest in medicine. What came next is this compelling portrait of how one becomes a world class trauma surgeon: the specialized training, the mindset to make critical decisions, and the practiced ability to operate on the human body. Dr. Rhee is so eminent that when President Clinton traveled to China, he was selected to accompany the president as his personal physician. In Trauma Red we learn how Rhee’s experiences were born from the love and sacrifices of determined parents, and of Rhee’s own quest to become as excellent a surgeon as possible.
Trauma Red chronicles the patient cases Dr. Rhee has handled over two decades on two distinct battle fronts: In Iraq and Afghanistan, where he served as a frontline US Navy surgeon trying to save young American soldiers, and the urban zones of Los Angeles and Washington, DC, where he has been confronted by an endless stream of bloody victims of civilian violence and accidents. Tough and outspoken, Dr. Rhee isn’t afraid to take on the politics of violence in America and a medical community that too often resists innovation. His story provides an inside look into a fascinating medical world, a place where lives are saved every day.
Peter Rhee is a world renowned trauma surgeon, the Chief of Trauma, Critical Care, Emergency Surgery and Burns at the University of Arizona, a tenured professor of surgery, and a retired US Navy Captain after twenty-four years of active duty. His areas of research include traumatic hemorrhagic shock and resuscitation, suspended animation for those who are about to die from trauma, hemostatic products to stop bleeding without surgery, development of blood products and resuscitation fluids, and advanced portable electronic medical devices. Dr. Rhee lives in Tucson, Arizona, with his wife and two children.
“Rhee has constructed an engaging narrative that smoothly relays a high volume of information from a fascinating life…Rhee has certainly demonstrated his devotion to his adopted homeland, and his common-sense stances on gun control and immigration deserve our attention.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Dr. Peter Rhee’s story is a true all-American saga: immigrant, son, husband, military officer, combat surgeon, innovator, leader, educator, spokesman, friend, and above all, a trauma surgeon. He takes us along for quite a read, including the horrific aftermath of the Tucson mass casualty shooting. Rhee concludes his story with a sentiment common to all who work in the trauma field, a plea to decrease senseless violence and improve the outcome of all those who are injured.”
– John B. Holcomb, MD; FACS; COL, ret, US Army; Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery; UT Health, Houston, TX</
“This is a great American success story: a young immigrant from South Korea serves his new country in the Navy and as a civilian trauma surgeon and later as the Chief of the Trauma Center at the University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson. Following the mass shooting tragedy on January 8, 2011, he draws on all his medical skills, leadership abilities, research knowledge, and experiences as a wartime field surgeon to save the life of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and the lives and limbs of other survivors. This is a truly inspirational story of how one man’s dedication to service and hard work can result in positive outcomes for people who have been subjected life threatening traumas.”
– U.S. Congressman Ron Barber
“Dr. Peter Rhee delivers the amazing and gripping events of his life in Trauma Red. He recounts how his journey intersected with ours on that horrible day in January 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. Some call it fate, but we believe that the stories in this book prepared him for the events that unfolded that day. We are forever grateful.”
– Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords
“This book provides a very personal, insider’s look at what it means to work as a trauma surgeon, both in war and here in the U.S., where violence and injury remain an ongoing daily struggle. Written by one of this nation’s leading trauma surgeons, the stories that illustrate his remarkable career are highly entertaining and provide insight into all of the pieces that came together to impact the lives of those that were harmed on that fateful day in January of 2011.”
– Kenji Inaba, MD; FRCSC; FACS; Medical Director, Surgical ICU, Division of Trauma & Critical Care, Los Angeles County and University of Southern