No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John, 15:13
The profession of dentistry is too often the butt of jokes; dentists are frequently portrayed in movies, television, and literature as the idiot cousins of the medical profession. Seldom are the words heroism and dentistry coupled in the minds of the average person; until now.
The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry has recently lost two of its young graduates under dissimilar yet heroic circumstances.
Dr. Thomas Grams retired from his Colorado dental practice in 2007 to dedicate his life to serving the poor in the countries of the world where no one was delivering dental care. Not content to serve the common mission sites of Honduras, Guatemala, and Haiti, he set out to Nepal, India, Vietnam, and finally Afghanistan.
He truly lived his Christian faith by following his Savior’s words to serve the poor. Falsely accused of spreading Christianity, Dr. Grams and nine of his International Assistance Mission volunteers were martyred by the Islamic terrorist group the Taliban.
Let us always be thankful that we live in a country built on the principles of religious freedom where a mosque can be built two blocks from the site of the 9/11 massacre.
Dr. Ryan Arnold was an orthodontist in Watertown, South Dakota, where he was planning to take over his dad’s practice. He was a loving father, an athlete, and an avid outdoorsman. He was also very committed to his church.
When Ryan’s brother Chad was in need of a liver transplant, Ryan stepped up with no apprehensions to give him part of his liver.
Shortly before the procedure, Ryan told KDVR-TV he wanted to give his brother a long life.
“I’m healthy, and I know I’ll stay healthy,” he said. “I’ll recover, and I want to see him do the things he wants to do, and spend time with his family, and I want him around for a long time.”
Their father, Rod Arnold, said that shortly before the procedure Ryan went to Chad’s room and told him, “I love you, bro’. You’re worth it. I believe in you.”
Sadly, something went wrong, and Ryan died giving his brother life.
No greater love could these two heroic dentists have given than to lay down their lives for their friends.
Certainly let us all remember these two men and their families in our prayers, but let them always as well serve as beacons for each of us in our beloved profession. When we feel down, when we question our worth and our value to society, forever remember, we must always have the courage to serve the greater good of our sisters and brothers of the world through our vocation: dentistry.
*Dr. Stein is Executive Editor of Northwest Dentistry. He is a general dentist in private practice in Aitkin, Minnesota, AitkinDent@AOL.com