+
Hello Humankindness

He had to operate to save an orangutan's life. The catch? He'd never done it before.

True
Dignity Health

When Daniel the orangutan arrived at the Phoenix Zoo in Arizona, he was in rough shape.

He was suffering from a respiratory disease, which, just like in humans, can worsen and even lead to death when untreated.

The stakes were high, especially considering that orangutans are a highly endangered species. And respiratory illnesses can be even more dangerous for orangutans which have an inflatable air sac that can be vulnerable when it becomes infected.Located in their throats, these air sacs are helpful in allowing orangutans to sustain the loud calls they're known for by creating a chamber for the sound to resonate within, but these air sacs are also prone to infection.


Dr. Gary West, executive vice president of animal health and collections at the Phoenix Zoo, was hopeful that cleaning the site of the infection would be enough for Daniel. But it wasn't.

The infection returned, and West quickly realized Daniel would need a sinus surgery if he had any shot at recovering. But that surgery required expertise that West didn't have. So they called in Dr. David Simms, an ENT specialist with Dignity Health, to perform the surgery.

There was just one problem: Simms had never operated on an orangutan before.

Humans and orangutans are pretty similar, but they're obviously not the same. This didn't intimidate Simms, though, who was excited to apply what he knew about humans to a different species. When Simms saw how badly Daniel needed the procedure, he was even more determined.

"I knew that I could help him," he explains. "I really didn't think twice."

Simms was relieved that Dignity Health, a health provider based in San Francisco, encouraged him to do the procedure and helped to plan it even though Daniel wasn't a human patient.With the right team behind him, Simms was confident he could perform the surgery.

Simms got to work. He started by studying up on orangutan anatomy before surgery.

He took CT scans so he could take a close look at the differences between a human's sinuses and an orangutan's. He even had a 3D replica of Daniel's skull printed to practice on before the actual surgery.

Being able to practice ahead of time was especially important because Daniel was already at a higher risk for complications because of the underlying air sac infection.

Luckily for Daniel, all the work paid off. The surgery went off without a hitch.

Almost immediately afterward, it was clear it'd been a success. Daniel's eyes were brighter, and his appetite was bigger.

"He wanted to eat everything in sight," says Mary Yoder, primate manager at the Phoenix Zoo. "He was back to his old self."

Daniel was doing extraordinarily well after the surgery, and his recovery offers hope for other primates who face the same challenges.

Many orangutans like Daniel deal with respiratory disease. Because they are on the brink of extinction, surgeries like these can make or break the survival of an entire species. When experts like Simms step in, they're not saving only a single orangutan — they're helping in conservation efforts to ensure orangutans survive well into the future.

Simms is hopeful this surgery will offer a model on which future surgeries can be based, helping all sorts of primates live longer, happier lives.

As for Daniel, the Phoenix Zoo hopes he'll find a mate, have a family, and enjoy a long life ahead of him, free of the disease that once held him back.

This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

Because you're a girl.

This article originally appeared on 04.14.17


I was promoted a few weeks ago, which was great. I got a lot of nice notes from friends, family, customers, partners, and random strangers, which was exciting.

But it wasn't long until a note came in saying, “Everyone knows you got the position because you're a girl." In spite of having a great week at a great company with great people whom I love, that still stung, because it's not the first time I've heard it.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

This blind chef wore a body cam to show how she prepares dazzling dishes.

How do blind people cook? This "Masterchef" winner leans into her senses.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

Christine Ha competes on "Masterchef."

This article originally appeared on 05.26.17


There is one question chef Christine Ha fields more than any other.

But it's got nothing to do with being a "Masterchef" champion, New York Times bestselling author, and acclaimed TV host and cooking instructor.

The question: "How do you cook while blind?"

Keep ReadingShow less
All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.

Keep ReadingShow less

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.

This article originally appeared on 04.22.15


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 01.27.20


From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

What I realized about feminism after my male friend was disgusted by tampons at a party.

"After all these years, my friend has probably forgotten, but I never have."

Photo by Josefin on Unsplash

It’s okay men. You don’t have to be afraid.

This article originally appeared on 08.12.16


Years ago, a friend went to a party, and something bothered him enough to rant to me about it later.

And it bothered me that he was so incensed about it, but I couldn't put my finger on why. It seemed so petty for him to be upset, and even more so for me to be annoyed with him.

Recently, something reminded me of that scenario, and it made more sense. I'll explain.

Keep ReadingShow less