Dr. Georgios Vrakas made Greeks proud when The Transplantation Society awarded him with the prestigious 'Young Investigator Award'. The Transplantation Society are a non-profit organization that works in collaboration with the World Health Organisation. They chose Greek transplant surgeon Dr. Georgios over many other candidates.
The outstanding Greek surgeon, aged 34 years old, is the grandson of proud grandparents who are migrants from Crete and Smyrna. Dr. Vrakas followed in his family's footsteps when he became a migrant himself to fulfill his lifetime ambitions. Now, Vrakas is a well-respected surgeon working at Oxford University Hospital NHS Trust.
Below, we share Dr. Vrakas' discussion with Neos Kosmos regarding the choices that he made to leave Greece, his career and how religion comes into play with medicine and cancer treatments.
Were you expecting to receive such an honorary award so early on in your career path?
It was a complete honor to receive such a prestigious award, especially at such a young age. Awards are a great and important way of reminding us that our work is appreciated and acknowledged. Awards give us that little incentive to try a bit harder.
Can you tell us in a bit more detail about your job description as a consultant transplant surgeon?
I perform different transplants including those of the pancreas, kidney, abdominal wall and intestinal. My department is incredibly busy and currently holds the record for performing the most pancreas transplants on a yearly basis.
Were there any particular events that made you pick this profession and career path?
Well, my mother is a lawyer, and my father is a retired general surgeon. I started preparing myself for a career in law. However, I changed my mind at the very last minute. I always wanted to walk in my father's footsteps. I'm inspired by the things he does for his patients and the hope that he gives them. During medical school, I found my passion for surgery, particularly transplantation.
What are your opinions on the Greek public educational system?
I completed my education at the University of Crete. My university is considered one of the best in Greece. I was overly impressed by the level and quality of courses on offer. When I was completing my 5th year of study, I participated in a USMLE exam, for which I received a scholarship at Harvard University for elective clinics. I can't fault the experience and education that Greece provided.
In what ways do English and Greek patients compare?
I would say that English people have an entirely different mind-set to Greek people. English patients are compliant, respectful and usually well-informed when they see us; they always ask the right questions, and we can offer then more advice that suits their needs.
Regarding your career and personal life, where do you think you will be in 10 years time?
Hopefully, I will have settled down in respects to my working and personal life. I hope to do the typical things like get married and have lots of children. Regarding my career path, I hope to become a director of a transplant department. That would be my ultimate goal.