Dr. Paul Brand was known in medical circles for two major accomplishments. First, he pioneered the startling idea that the loss of fingers and toes in leprosy was due entirely to injury and infection and was thus preventable.
Leprosy attacks chiefly the nervous system, and resultant tissue abuse occurs because the patient loses the warnings of pain—not because of inherent decay brought on by the disease. The theory, radically new when Brand first proposed it as a missionary surgeon in India, has gained worldwide acceptance.
Second, he was hailed as a skilled and inventive hand surgeon, and most major textbooks on hand surgery contain chapters by him. Brand was the first to apply tendon transfer techniques to the specific problems of leprosy patients, whose hands often harden into rigid "claw-hands."
Philip Yancey interviewed Brand for the December 1, 1978, issue of Christianity Today after Brand was awarded the prestigious Albert Lasker Medical Award and made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. At the time, Brand had spent ten years working at the Public Health Service Hospital in Carville, Louisiana.
There, he concentrated on rehabilitation techniques, designing shoes and tools for use by insensitive patients. He also developed the concept of "hand rehabilitation centers" where patients could live and work to get ready for normal life.
You once headed up a research project in which you tried to develop an alternate pain system for people who are insensitive to pain, such as leprosy patients. In a sense, you and your team of scientists and bioengineers were playing creator with the human body. What did this teach you about the creation process God went through?
Our most overwhelming response, of course, was a profound ...1