When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
-- Matthew 14:14
Dr. Thomas A. Huff embodies the compassionate healing ministry of the Great Physician. For 25 years, he has treated me for Type-1 diabetes. Through his compassion, expertise and advice, I enjoy a quality of life relatively free from complications after 39 years of battling this chronic, incurable -- but manageable -- disease.
Huff joined the Medical College of Georgia in January 1971 after completing a fellowship in endocrinology at Duke University Medical School. He was the first endocrinologist on the MCG staff who specialized in the care, treatment, study and teaching of diabetes.
A lifelong Presbyterian, Huff did his undergraduate work at Rhodes (Presbyterian) College in Memphis and took Bible courses that helped lay the foundation for his theology and philosophy. Out of his deep faith and study came his Christ-like concern for patients and students.
French philosopher Paul Ricoeur also influenced Huff. From Ricoeur's ideas in Freedom and Nature , Huff realized the need to practice patience because of the fallibility in both the physician and the patient.
Huff explains: "Sometimes my patients cannot accept their disease. That is a part of our fallibility. But to live well, they have to consent to the diabetes with their will and emotions."
Huff's empathy for his diabetic patients led him and others to lobby Congress and make several trips to Washington, D.C., in the late 1970s. They led Congress to appropriate $165 million for the most comprehensive diabetes study ever conducted, involving 1,441 participants throughout the U.S. and Canada, of which I am one. The Diabetes Complications and Control Trial resulted in the most important breakthrough regarding the delivery of care to diabetics since the discovery of insulin. Learn more at diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/control.
Huff is now retired and a professor emeritus at MCG but continues to see 50-60 patients annually on a volunteer basis, donating his fees and services to MCG.
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, and though Huff can't make the blind see again, as Jesus did, helping make the diabetes trial a reality gave the doctor and diabetics the knowledge and means to prevent blindness and avoid other complications for decades -- even all of their lives.
This humble physician from a small Mississippi town bestows the mercy of Christ on those suffering from an incurable disease. Thank you, Dr. Tom Huff.