It was about 18 months ago that historian-author Gavan Daws and his charming wife sat on our lanai overlooking the sea at Haiku... and discussed leprosy. Not the usual cocktail hour chit-chat, but then Daws was launched on a most unusual project. He was researching a biography on the life of Damien De Veuster—Father Damien, the controversial martyr of Molokai.
I had admired Daws' earlier work The Shoal of Time— a scholarly, brightly documented, flowing history of the Islands. While visiting mutual friends on Maui he learned that I had worked at Kalaupapa, the Hansen Disease Settlement on Molokai. And so we met.
For many years I have maintained a peripheral interest in leprosy—whetted by several trips to the settlement in the mid-60s. And so, long into the night we explored aspects of leprosy, recent therapeutic developments, its mysterious pathophysiology, the psychosocial environment of Kalaupapa, and the historical impact
Holy Man and His Disease. JAMA. 1974;228(1):78–80. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230260052032
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