Paul and Margaret Brand

On 17th November 2014, world renowned leprosy eye specialist, Margaret Brand died. We offer the following words of tribute to her and her famous surgeon husband, Paul. Drs. Paul and Margaret Brand met in medical school in London, England. Intent on entering missionary service, the couple’s first assignment was at Vellore, India. When they first arrived in India, the medical community thought the flesh of those with leprosy just rotted away. But as Dr. Brand studied his patients he saw that their flesh was healthy.

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Taking on a bit sleuthing, Dr. Brand sat with his patients as they slept. In the dark silence of the night rats came and chewed the toes and fingers of his patients, their bloodied, numb fingers attracting them. Because they felt no pain, they didn’t waken.

As the Brands served the poorest of the poor, they pushed the edges, developing innovative surgeries to correct clawed fingers, dropped feet and the loss of the blinking response. By rerouting tendons, they were able to give patients the ability to use their hands, feet and protect their eyes. The surgical procedures they developed are still used in hospitals world-wide.

As the Brands served the poorest of the poor, they pushed the edges, developing innovative surgeries to correct clawed fingers, dropped feet and the loss of the blinking response.

Dr. Brand’s faith directed much of his work. He produced poignant writings on The Problem of Pain. Here is a short excerpt from the book he co-wrote with Philip Yancey, In His Image: 

“In a medical career that has spanned four decades, I have never stopped thinking of pain. I have seen its beauty and brilliant design as I have studied physiology and observed the effects of painlessness on my leprosy patients. I have seen its cruelty as I have watched patients die in agony and have listened to families traumatized by the mutilating injury of a child. In my reflections on theology, no matter where I begin, my mind circles back to this enigmatic topic of pain.”

  • The Bible gives overwhelming emphasis to God’s passionate involvement with creation. It is virtually a catalog of His emotions in relating to humanity. From creation onward, God places Himself in the position of an anxious Father who has let His children go free.
    In His Image, Philip Yancey, Dr. Paul Brand
  • He [Christ] surely does not suffer out of some deficiency of being, as His creatures do, but from the love that overflows from His being. That is, in fact, how the Gospels define love: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son.’
    In His Image, Philip Yancey, Dr. Paul Brand
  • The pictorial Chinese language combines the two concepts of love and pain in eloquent symbolism. In the character that expresses the highest king o love, symbols for love and for pain are brushed on top of each other to form a word like ‘pain-love.’ Thus a mother ‘pain-loves’ her child. She pours her whole being on the child’s behalf. In essence God showed pain-love to creation by emptying Himself and joining us in the Incarnation.
    In His Image, Philip Yancey, Dr. Paul Brand