MUDr. Richard Lukáš

* 1953

  • „There were several special snowflakes and they did not manage to pass. They did not pass the courses, they did not manage to so nepotism and favouritism did not help, oddly enough. It could work for a year or two but in the third year, there was no-one, in my opinion. There was one such guy who went to a trade school and he was a fridge repairman, and passed the high school graduation exam after maybe one-year course. He was a working class cadre, they [the Communist party] fast-tracked him through the schools. He was a nice country boy and in the first year, he was gradually falling behind. And as he couldn’t keep step with us, when we came and asked: ‘Could you lend me an eraser, I need to erase a thing,’ he would hold onto the eraser: ‘Nope, not going to lend you anything,’ He tried to disadvantage us, hold us back. He didn’t pass the exams and had to repeat the first year and alas, he had a nervous breakdown. After a search, they found him confused and desperate in the middle of some fields. This was a side effect of these attempts to fill the schools with those working class cadres.” Note: the Communist Party wanted to have politically reliable and class-conscious people in all fields so with working class background, one could get precedence when it came to school enrollment (and workplace advancement). Some indeed disadvantaged but capable, good part of them were not; this field was rife with favouritism and bribery and those ‘working class cadres’ or someone’s protégés were often indeed not as qualified as those students who were able to go through the entrance exams.

  • My parents were lawyers. Dad was a judge at the civil court and mom was an attorney specialised in ...

  • „I never joined the Party. The head of the surgical department, Dr. Rejha, he was only one in the department who was in the Party. He tried to persuade me to join it too and it was sort of silly. He wanted to keep it a secret, so did I, at the end we met twice or thrice at the toilets. He used to smoke pipe, he stood at one side of the toilet bowl, I, a non-smoker, stood on the other side and above that toilet bowl, I was being persuaded to join the Party by these words: ‘Doctor, if you do not join the Party, one day, you will have an utter arsehole for a boss.’ And I told him that I hoped that someday, there would be some work left for me so I did not apply for membership. Later on, they told me that they would reject me anyway but it had not occurred to me at all. But it was such a silly situation and sometimes when I recall it, it makes for a good story. Because that was wonderful recruitment method! And we kept it under the wraps. But Doctor Rejha is deceased now, he taught me a lot and I am grateful for his efforts to help me.“

  • „When it comes to various issues, we constantly worked with very shabby tools. For some purposes, electrocauters are used. That’s an electric scalpel which operates with electric current and skin resistance so it cauterises skin and tissues which we need to remove. So this electric knife is used, which at the time of cutting seals the tissue so the blood losses are diminished. But then you have a halfway broken wire so you have to ensure that there’s contact with the cable. ‘Why isn’t this fixed?’ - ‘We ordered the repairs.’ and then it stops working entirely. When you have to call off the surgery for this banal technical reason, you just get mad. There were many such things. We didn’t have disposable gloves. Gloves were washed, sprayed with talc and wrapped in gauze. The first time we got those surgical drapes which were taped to the patient around the surgical field and then just tossed, we couldn‘t use them but for the most super sterile surgeries because we had to explain to the hospital management why we use disposable material.”

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    Liberec, 24.07.2020

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Surgery during Communism: shabby machines and reused disposable gloves

Richard Lukáš, undated.
Richard Lukáš, undated.
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Richard Lukáš was born on the 27th April of 1953 in Liberec into a family of lawyers. His father was a judge and his mother was attorney-at-law. Several relatives emigrated in 1948 and 1968. His parents were members of the Communist party but in 1968, after voicing their disagreement with the occupation by the Warsaw Pact armies, they were deprived of the Party membership, lost their jobs and could only work as legal consultants. Richard started studying at high school right after the August 1968 occupation and on the very first school day, he joined a protest strike against the occupation. During his high school studies, he and his schoolmates started a band which played their own songs as well as Karel Kryl’s songs, which was the reason why they were banned from performing for several months. After graduating from high school, he wanted to study architecture but he did not have the technical abilities needed and at the end, he applied to the medical school in Hradec Králové. During his studies, he participated in activities of the students’ club, which drew the attention of the State Security. After graduating and having served in the army, he started working in the surgical ward of the Liberec hospital under the supervision of Professor Taller. Under his guidance, he concentrated on trauma surgery, especially on the injuries of spine and spinal cord. In the 1990’s, he became a member of the European Spine Society and co-founded the The Czech Spine Surgery Society. He became the head of the trauma centre in the Liberec hospital. He was the moving force behind the establishment of new spinal units in the Czech Republic; these provide comprehensive care for patients with severe spinal injuries and afflictions. The Liberec unit which is a part of the trauma centre is one of the best not only in the country but also in Europe. For his accomplishments in traumatology and spinal injury, he was awarded the Honourable medal of Czech Medical Association of J. E. Purkyně. The Liberec spinal unit received, as the first one in Czech Republic, the statute of the European Center of Excellence for Spinal Surgery. Since the end of the 1970’s, Richard Lukáš has been struggling with multiple sclerosis. He never let the illness to také the better of him and he kept performing surgeries until 2015. Then, his illness progressed and he started to need a wheelchair to move around. He did not retire, though, and since 2017, he’s been the CEO and Chairman of the Board of the Liberec hospital. Note: the names of institutions, organisations and similar were taken from their respective websites.