Donadio was fresh out of his Mayo medical residency training in 1966 when he was drafted into the Vietnam War to supervise a renal (kidney) intensive-care unit. “I served a year at the 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon,” Donadio recalls. “On the day I arrived, I cared for the first patient in the war zone to receive hemodialysis. I was the first doctor assigned as a permanent member of the renal unit.” In addition to his duties as a nephrologist — then a new specialty — Donadio worked with his fellow physicians as a team when multiple casualties came into the hospital. He also cared for patients who suffered from the tropical diseases that were so prevalent in Southeast Asia and joined his fellow doctors when they went out to local villages to care for the Vietnamese people. When Donadio left the United States, he left behind a wife and four children under the age of eight and he writes about the pain of that separation. It took extra mental effort on his part to push ahead and attend to his medical responsibilities. Donadio’s family encouraged him to write his memoirs. “I would show them pictures and share bits and pieces of my experiences in Vietnam when we were together,” he said. “They urged me to put it all together, and in addition to writing my memories, I gathered articles we wrote for medical journals describing our clinical findings and many photos from Vietnam to create this book.” The author’s faith helped get him through the year. After he volunteered at two Vietnamese orphanages operated by Catholic nuns, at his request, members of his home parish, St. Francis of Assisi in Rochester, gathered clothes, medicine and toys for children. Donadio also was selected as Francis Joseph Cardinal Spellman's physician-in-attendance during the Cardinal's visit to Vietnam in December 1966.
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