In Memoriam -- Christian Hansen, MD (PC Doctor)
Chris Hansen, pediatrician, colleague in the field, MFP
Board Member, and a special friend, died on February 3rd  of a bone
marrow disease. It is appropriate that Chris’s life is praised in this
column because of his great love for the children of Haiti.
The style and character of Medicine For Peace volunteers
have had a strong influence of the ethic of this medical relief
organization. Physician and nurse volunteers tend to be idiosyncratic,
risk takers and altruistic. Chris had been a MFP volunteer since the early
1990’s, and no one infused MFP with his character and idealism in quite
the way that Chris did.
Chris’s education and medical training would seem to have
prepared him for an academic career: medical school at the University of
Pennsylvania, residency at the Philadelphia Children's Hospital, a Masters
in Public Health from Harvard, and a Fellowship in Developmental Disorders
at the University of London. However, Chris’s life, strongly influenced by
his Quaker faith, took a very different path. Chris and his wife Alex,
moved to the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona, where he worked
for the U.S. Public Health Service, caring for Native American children.
Following a stint with the Peace Corps in Turkey, he returned to the U.S.
to work at the Tufts Delta Health Center in Mound Bayou, Mississippi.
While Chris worked in the clinic, Alex worked in a black parochial school.
Working in the civil rights movement strengthened his resolve to care for
children who were victimized either by politics or the circumstances of
Chris developed a passionate concern for children in the
developing world, particularly those countries plagued by war. He flew
into Biafra in the 1960’s to assist children who were being starved by the
Nigerian government, worked with Kurdish children in the refugee camp in
Zakho in northern Iraq, treated Rwandan children suffering from epidemics
of cerebral malaria in the Burighi refugee camp in Tanzania, and conducted
a MFP nutrition study of children in a poor section of Baghdad after the
first Gulf War. Chris had a special affection for Haiti, and helped
organize a clinic for children with developmental disorders in
Chris was an imposing figure: six foot four inches tall, a
shock of white hair and beard, decked out in cowboy boots, and a string
tie with his signature Navaho tortoise clasp. His dress seemed to fit his
life’s work. In addition to his work abroad, Chris was the Chief Pediatric
Consultant for the Division of Youth Services and Family Services in New
Jersey. His job was to provide services to mentally and physical abused
children. He worried constantly about those children and the awful things
that had happened to them. His colleagues attest to his optimistic spirit,
but I know that what he had witnessed took a toll on him.
I remember most vividly one conversation I had with Chris
when we worked together in Baghdad after the First Gulf War. The hospitals
were crowded with a seemingly endless stream of severely malnourished
children with marasmus and kwashiorkor. I expressed to Chris my
discouragement at our inability to help many of those children. He looked
at me with the determination he always seemed to have in those situations,
“Well Mike, we’re going to save these kids, one child at a
--- taken from the
Medicine for Peace website: