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Expat Indian doctor's book explains health issues to children
Tuesday August 27, 2013 10:52 AM, Frederick Noronha, IANS

It's large, it's colourful and it's attractive. It's the kind of book that even draws an adult to go through and, before you realise it, you've picked up something new.

Its main author, Gleeson Rebello, is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon born and brought up in Goa. He is currently a consultant in the department of orthopedic surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, and on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School.

The book describes itself as "a tale of trauma, treatment, and recovery in rhyme". It deals with a story from everyday life: a child gets injured on the playground, and ends up in the emergency room.

Rebello says his attempt is to "educate without intimidating" and "entertain without underestimating". So this book packs in poetry, humour and, importantly, medical accuracy.

DareBone is the boy who suffers his first major injury - a broken elbow. We meet him together with his "wise-cracking sidekick", the dog Wag-A-Bone.

Given the authors' medical backgrounds, DareBone not surprisingly meets a number of "medical heroes", including the orthopedic surgeon, as he journeys through surgery and recovery.

"The book was written with the aim of raising the bar in terms of explaining the nuts and bolts of everyday medical practice to a smarter generation of children without underestimating their ability to pick up complex concepts. A secondary aim of the book is to make medicine and biology 'cool'," Rebello said in an email interview.

He sees the book as "very technical from an orthopedic standpoint but at the same time funny and easy to comprehend." It is aimed at children of 4-10 years, as well as their parents and healthcare professionals or educationists who deal with children of that age.

"The response to the book has been very encouraging both from healthcare- and non-healthcare-related professionals. It took two years to write it once I thought of the idea.... (There also was) interacting with a lot of frightened children with broken bones in the emergency room and my clinic, who were mostly afraid because of lack of knowledge of what was to follow," Rebello said.

This is planned to be the first of several books from Rebello, who partnered for this job with Jamie Harisiades. They will speak about common childhood conditions like allergy, autism, asthma, and obesity. Rebello is also working on a similar book on childhood obesity and also create an app out of 'DareBones Big Break'.

Originally published in the US, the book is now available as an ebook on Kindle through Amazon in India (amazon.in) for $4.99.

Rebello has trained at the Goa Medical College, Christian Medical College in Vellore and the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, before he joined Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, as a research fellow and on a staff position in 2008. His father, Francis M. Rebello was closely associated with a local Konkani newspaper in Goa, founded through public donations in the 1970s.

Not surprisingly, Rebello says he caught the writing bug "right from my schooldays". "Every doctor has thousands of stories inside him. The story of his professional life is but a collection of stories of his patients' lives."

Book: DareBone's Big Break;
Authors: Gleeson Rebello, MD, and Jamie Harisiades;
Publisher: SDP Publishing;
Price: $14.95 (paperback), $4.80 (Kindle)

(Frederick Noronha can be contacted at fredericknoronha@gmail.com)

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