LONGMEADOW—Dr. Andrew Lam enjoys his job as an eye surgeon, especially when through his surgical skills he can sometimes return a legally blind person’s sight to the point that he or she can see well enough to drive again.
But if you ask him, his true passion is history. Fortunately for the 37-year-old Longmeadow resident, he has found a way to combine his two interests.
When not performing retinal surgery with New England Retina Consultants in Springfield or spending time with his wife and four young children, Andrew has written two books and is working on a third—all with an historical theme.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew twice about his books for stories I wrote for The Republican. I was impressed with his drive and the ease at which he approaches challenging tasks. And he’s got the smarts. He earned a history degree at Yale University before attending medical school at the University of Pennsylvania.
“I felt very comfortable doing serious historical research as an undergrad. I was someone who did decently well in a number of subjects and I didn’t have any issues with the pre-med courses,” he said. “The first thing I learned in medical school is that I wanted to be a surgeon of some kind because I like to fix problems and get instant results.”
His path to medicine was influenced by his cardiologist father, Wilfred Lam, who was well-known in Springfield, Ill. Andrew heard countless times from his father’s patients or their families the question of whether he would follow in his footsteps.
At 9, Andrew needed glasses due to his nearsighted condition. So when he went to the eye doctor as a kid, he actually enjoyed the experience because when he left he could see better. As an adult, his “love” for the eye directed him to a career as an ophthalmologist.
In Andrew’s first book, Saving Sight: An eye surgeon’s look at life behind the mask and the heroes who changed the way we see, he acknowledges the eye surgeons who came before him and changed medical history. It’s not your average historical textbook. Instead, Andrew relates his own experiences in the operating room and talks about the technological advances of these “hero” surgeons. It’s a clever way to share history.
As a Chinese-American, Andrew is also interested in World War II as it relates to China—one of the forgotten theaters of the war, he believes. Two Sons of China is a novel that tells the true story of Americans who served with the Dixie Mission of 1944 in China.
Currently, Andrew is working on his second novel, Repentance, an homage to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit made up almost entirely of American soldiers of Japanese descent. The unit is considered the most highly decorated one in U.S. military history.
Through his writing, Andrew is trying to make history intriguing enough to get people interested in learning more. He especially wants young adults to take time out from their texting, video games and other distractions these days to learn about important events in history.
A noble idea and one I truly hope results in success.
For more information about Andrew or his books, please visit www.AndrewLamMD.com.